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An Overview of Mexican Religion
From Ancient Beliefs to Mexican Religion Today
Related Article: Mexican Christmas
The ancient Mexican religion is called the Nahua religion, or religion of the Nahuatl (the first natives of Mexico). It is believed to be a mixture of many different Mexican religions, practiced by many of the several native tribes on the region, like Mayans, Toltecs, Zapotecs and Olmecs, among others. As those tribes were absorbed by the Aztecs, their own beliefs may have been incorporated to their religion, creating the Nahua.
The virgin of Guadalupe
They worshipped several deities, which present a resemblance with greek and Egyptian deities. They used to practice ritualistic cannibalism and offer human sacrifices to their gods. It is interesting to find the great similarities between Tezcatlipoca, the god of wind, and his Hebrew equivalent, Jahveh; and it is even more amazing to know that the Mexicans were familiar with the rituals of baptism and confession way before the arrival of the Spaniards. However, these customs, while similar to some Christian practices and rituals, presented notorious differences in symbolism and meaning.
Taking a quick look at the ancient Mexican religion, it can be concluded that it was a group of senseless beliefs and legends created by barbarian tribes. However, such a conclusion couldn't be more wrong: the Nahua religion was theologically more advanced than the Greek one, or even the Roman one. In fact, the ancient Mexican religion can be compared to the Assyrian, or even the Egyptian one, due to their knowledge to astronomy and mathematics, both of which were used by the ancient priests to predict events like eclipses.
After the Spaniards arrived to Mexico carrying the Catholic faith with them, the Mexican religion experienced important changes that led to the exclusion of many deities in favor of one, which was the True God announced by the Spanish priests.
However, far from being left apart and forgotten, many ancient deities were incorporated by the Mexican religion, creating a unique view of the Catholic faith. Nowadays, those deities can be found under several forms, and the rituals worshipping them are present as well.
One of the most important of those deities is “San La Muerte”, or saint death, represented by a skeleton and usually worshipped on the “Dia de los muertos”, the day of the dead.
Many other elements of the ancient Mexican culture closely relate to specific days of the year, which have a special meaning for Mexican religion.