Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/303

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FEASTS AND FESTIVALS.

Mictlanteuctli, claimed a nocturnal sacrifice, and the god of the merchants a second feast. The horrid circle of sacrifices was completed on the 1st of February, when all the fires of the city were extinguished, and kindled anew from the flame TLM D303 Mother of the gods.jpgMOTHER OF THE GODS. on the altar of the god of fire. On the last of February took place the most impressive of all the festivals, that of the Teoxihuitl, or "divine years," at the beginning of the Aztec cycle, which fell due only once in a century (fifty two years) and was celebrated with great solemnity.

However much this list of the feasts and festivals of the ancient Mexicans is indebted for its length to the imagination of the Spanish chroniclers, it will at least be evident that these people had quite sufficient for all intents and purposes before the imposition upon them of those pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church. The Spanish clergy labored many years to abolish the remembrance of them, and to substitute their own less barbarous fasts, feasts, and symbols. Although the Indian long clung to his cherished idols, he finally transferred his allegiance from the native to the foreign gods, and entered with great gusto into the celebrations and processions which the clergy got up for his edification. These at last came to be such an intolerable nuisance that government abolished them, so far as processions were concerned, and now, except in certain isolated districts, no religious pageant is allowed to parade the streets.

Besides the feast-days pertaining to the Romish calendar, the following are the legalized holidays, or memorials, on which the national flag is displayed:—