thumbnail Ringing in the new year at Teotihuacan
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Ringing in the new year at Teotihuacan © Marco Ugarte/AP PhotoJoin Our GIFs Group
If the Aztecs had hot air balloons, they may well have greeted the new year like this—floating above the massive Pyramid of the Sun at sunrise today, the first day of the year according to the Aztec calendar. Also known as Yancuic Xihuitl, the Aztec New Year is still celebrated by some Indigenous Nahua communities here in central Mexico with songs, dances, and the flames of "ocote" (pitch pine) candles. Dancers wear colorful traditional costumes topped by quetzal feather headdresses, and celebrants greet the new year by making loud noises with seashells, just as Aztecs did centuries ago. It"s one of the many expressions of pre-Columbian tradition that managed to survive the Spanish conquest and modern erosion of Indigenous customs.