The Mayan civilization was one of the most outstanding and richest societies in the history of mankind. They have entered the history books for many of their advances in agriculture, architecture, mathematics and writing, but above all, the Mayan customs and traditions are true jewels of human civilization.
They also had a very rich culture in many aspects that endowed them with a great variety of customs, traditions and activities that they carried out collectively, granting added value to the Mayan community compared to other societies.
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We must take into account that the Mayan civilization appeared approximately in the year 2000 before Christ and disappeared due to the Spanish conquest shortly before the year 1700 after Christ.
This makes it one of the longest-lived societies. The result was a complex cultural system full of traditions and customs that we can know and understand today. 1. The husband-in-law relationship
We begin with one of the Mayan customs and traditions related to family and marriage .
When a couple married, the woman’s husband was accountable to the daughter’s parents. This means that he had to “pay” them for having allowed the daughter to marry hers.The most common form of payment was to have the husband work for a time for his new wife’s parents . In this way he gave thanks and showed that he really wanted to be with her through her efforts. 2. Corn in the grave
When a person died, it was very common to accompany the body with a certain amount of corn. The Mayans considered that the person when he died should make a trip to the afterlife . In order to make this trip in an ideal way, the traveler would use this common food of the Mayan culture. 3. The Mayans do not go to heaven The Mayan civilization was theocentric . In fact, religion was a central part of Mayan society and culture.
However, there is one very interesting fact:The Mayans did not believe that everyone went to heaven with the gods . That is, neither the rulers (seen as mediators between the gods and the population) nor the priests (nor, of course, the middle or lower class), went to heaven after they died. On the contrary, they all went to the so-called “underworld”, a place full of dangers and sinister gods. Only people who died during birth and those who were sacrificed went to heaven with the “good” gods. 4. Blood offering
We all know the famous blood offerings as one of the most famous Mayan traditions.
The objective of these offerings was to return the blood to the gods, since according to the Mayan culture, the gods gave their blood to create human beings.. In this way, through these rituals, it is possible to “return” the blood that they once gave us.
This is why prisoners of war were normally the most common blood offerings, however, even leaders and high officials cause cuts as offerings, but without reaching death. 5. Massages during pregnancy
When a pregnant woman reached the fourth or fifth month of gestation, it was common for her to receive massages periodically to ensure that the future baby is in the correct position for birth.
This managed to reduce the possible problems that could appear during childbirth when babies adopt potentially complicated positions.
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6. Deviated eyes
To the surprise of many, one of the best-known Mayan traditions was to consider having deviated eyes or strabismus as beautiful; This caused many people to intentionally cause this ocular deviation in their children.
To achieve this, from a very young age, children were placed near their eyes with objects to make them look away. 7. Straight skull
At an aesthetic level for the Mayan culture it was tradition to try to make the skull straight and elongated . To do this, some boards were placed on the head of the young people, thus gradually forcing the natural shape of the skull. 8. Name of the person
One of the most well-known and interesting Mayan customs is related to the names given to newborns.
According to this tradition, the child’s name had to do with some important event that had happened recently. But, there is still more.
This name could only be known by the people closest to the family. For this reason, a pseudonym was used, which was the one that other people knew.
At the same time, there were 3 surnames . The first was the patrimonico (which indicates that it belongs to a specific family). The second is a combination of the father’s and mother’s names. Finally, the third was the one known as coco kaba, which consisted of a nickname. 9. Social classes
As in any society, the Mayans traditionally had different levels of recognition depending on the class to which they belong. Broadly speaking, there were 3 social classes among the Mayans: Upper class : Composed of theologians, the army and politicians. They held the power and knowledge necessary to make predictions about the weather (very important for the Mayan culture) and different atmospheric and cosmological phenomena. They also had the support of the gods in the eyes of society. Middle class : Within this class we find people with various trades but all of them well considered and above the common people. For example: architects, artists and merchants. Lower class: They were responsible for the collection of raw materials. Be it food, wood or any other product. Also, they had to pay many taxes to the ruling classes. 10. Territories at war
We do not know if it can be considered custom or tradition, but the truth is that this fact is important to understand the Mayan culture.
The reality is that Mayan society was made up of a large number of territories and cities, many of them politically opposed.
This meant that the Mayan society was never unified and that today it cannot be considered as an empire .
We are sure that if there had been less enmity between the different tribes, the Mayan culture would have gone even further.
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