Difference Between Mayan and Aztec Calendar

Calendars play a very important role in our daily lives. They help us keep track of a number of important dates (from birthdays to various festivals). Calendars are of different types.


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Two of the most renowned types of calendars are Mayan and Aztec calendars. Both of these calendars are quite different from each other and share different qualities.

Mayan vs Aztec Calendar

The difference between the Mayan and Aztec calendars is that the former refers to 11Th August 3114 as the day, month, and year, when the world was formed while on the other hand the latter refers to 1710, are the first year when the world was made. They also differ in their origin.

Mayan vs Aztec Calendar

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The Mayan calendar was initially used in Mesoamerica. The calendar has a number of cycles designed on it. These cycles represent a 260-day count which is referred to as Tzolkin.

Apart from a Tzolkin the calendar also includes a Haab. Haab refers to a vague solar year of approximately 365 days.

Aztec calendar is majorly or mainly used in Mexico. An Aztec calendar consists of two cycles. One depicts the year count and the other depicts the day count.

The year count refers to a 365-day cycle while on the other hand, the day count refers to a 260-day cycle.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonMayan Calendar Aztec Calendar 
Significance The Mayan calendar was famous amongst the Mayan community and consisted of three other calendars.The Aztec calendar has a total of 18 months and is popular amongst the Mexican population.
OriginThe calendar originated and developed along with the Olmec Civilization.The Aztec calendar initially originated in the valley of Mexico.
Date Of Invention The Mayan calendar was established in the 1st century BC.The Aztec calendar was founded in the year 1710.
Used by The Mayan community and Olmec community used the Mayan calendar.Aztec calendar is used by the Aztecs and Mexicans.
  Also calledThe Mayan calendar is also known as Tzolkin and Haab.Aztec calendar is also referred to as Tonalpohualli.

What is Mayan Calendar?

The Mayan calendar is heavily used in the Mayan community and the Mesoamerican civilization. According to the Mayan calendar, the existence of the world began in the year 3114 BC on the 11th of August.

The calendar has a number of cycles (also called counts) that are of different lengths. These cycles refer to either year count or day count. 

There are three calendar systems under the Mayan calendar. These are the long count, the divine calendar or Tzolkin, and the civil calendar or Haab. The qualities of each calendar system are given below:

  • The Long Count – It directs to the number of days. According to the long count system, the word “kin” refers to days. For example 20 kin refers to 20 days. Terms like “unial”, “tun”, “katun” and “baktun” are used in this system. 
  • The Divine Calendar or Tzolkin – Under this calendar system, there are two weeks included. The first one represents a numbered week of 13 days whereas the second one represents a named week of 20 days. It doesn’t take the year into consideration.
  • The Civil Calendar or Haab – This calendar system is made up of 18 months. Each month consists of 20 days. Apart from these 360 days, there are 5 extra days called Uayeb. Hence there are a total of 365 days. 

What is Aztec Calendar?

Aztec calendar is used mainly or majorly by the Aztec community and the Olmec civilization. The calendar is also famous among the Mexicans.

The Aztec calendar originated in the year 1710 and is divided into two calendar systems. The two calendar systems include cycles or counts of a number of lengths. 

Tonalpohualli and Xiuhpohualli are the two calendar systems that come under the Aztec calendar.

Tonalpohualli refers to the counting of the days while on the other hand, Xiuhpohualli refers to the counting of years. Both the calendar systems work or function or run simultaneously.

The Aztec calendar kept an account of several auspicious dates and events. These auspicious events had a great impact on a person’s personality, harvest success, and the prosperity of a ruler.

The calendar also keeps track of various artworks and monuments. 

Tonalpohualli refers to the number of days and includes a total of 260 days. This system is broken down into 20 days. Each day is assigned a unique name. 

Xiuhpohualli means counting or numbering of the years. It includes a 365-day cycle and is divided into 18 groups or months.

All these eighteen groups or months are made of 20 days. This calendar system helps keep a track of various festivals and religions. 

Main Differences Between Mayan and Aztec Calendar 

  1. Mayan community uses the Mayan calendar while on the other hand, the Aztec community uses the Aztec calendar.
  2. Mayan calendar initially originated in the year 3114 BC whereas the Aztec calendar initially originated in the year 1710.
  3. The Mayan calendar is also referred to as Tzolkin and Have while on the other hand, the Aztec calendar is named Tonalpohualli.
  4. Mayan calendar celebrates or performs a number of rituals related to god and humans while on the other hand, Aztec calendar celebrates certain rituals based on sacrifices.
  5. Three calendar systems are involved in a Mayan calendar while on the other hand, two calendars systems are present in the Aztec calendar.
Difference Between Mayan and Aztec Calendar
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