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Festivals Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
Festivals

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In the Maya Empire, every 20th day was a festival day. Priests would climb up the steps of a pyramid or a temple. On the steps, dressed in fierce masks and towering hats, they would dance and rattle things and make a lot of noise. Their huge hats had things sewn on them that jingled. This added to the noise. It was a show of power to let the demons know that the priests were fierce and powerful. The noise was also to attract the attention of the gods in the heavens so they knew the Maya were praying.

Bloodletting was part of every festival. But bloodletting was a personal sacrifice. The Maya cut themselves so that a drop or two of blood would appear. The nobles smeared their blood on a bit of bark and then burned it, to help their blood get to heaven, so the gods would know they had made a sacrifice in their honor.

The Maya did practice human sacrifice, but human sacrifice was not part of every festival. When captives were forced to play a game of ball against a Maya team, they always lost. After the game, the captive team was sacrificed.

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