The Haab

The HAAB (AB’ in K’iche’) is the Mayas’ solar and secular calendar. It consists of a 365-day cycle divided in 18 “months” of 20 days each (18 x 20 = 360)  and of a final period of 5 days. Just as the TZOLK’IN, the HAAB was mostly used by the Amerindian civilizations, especially by the Aztecs, under the name of XIUHPOHUALLI.

Connection with the TZOLK’IN

Together with the sacred calendar TZOLK’IN, the HAAB is divided in cycles of 52 years called “Amerindian Century” or “Calendar Round”.

Both calendars, the sacred one as well as the secular one, are closely linked. A Mayan date will show at least the TZOLK’IN day and the HAAB day - allowing to set a date with precision in a HAAB 52-year cycle, i.e. 18980 days.

The Year Bearer

The first day of the HAAB (see below the HAAB “month” description) is called the Year Lord or the Year Bearer. It is represented as a person carrying a basket full of stones to symbolize the years and the weight of human history.

Mathematically, the first days of the HAAB always correspond to the same 4 day glyphs, one for each direction, which are:

             CABAN (east)                IK (north)             MANIK (west)               EB (south)

This 4 glyphs group is one of the 5 possible ones:

POP (K'an Jalab)  Haab days 01-20

In 2011 : Feb 22 -  March 13   In 2012 : Feb 22 -  March 12 

In 1521 : June 11 - 30

Literal translation:  mat

Assumed original period: -

Pop is the first month of the year; the Mayan New Year is thus celebrated on the 0 – Pop. The Year Bearer is the TZOLK’IN day that corresponds to the HAAB 0 – Pop.

WO (Ik’at)  Haab days 21-40

In 2011 : March 14 -  April 2   In 2012 : March 12 - April 1

In 1521 : July 1 - 20

Literal translation:  frog

Assumed original period: Frogs are numerous and active during the month of August.

SIP (Chak’at)  Haab days 41-60

In 2011 : April 3 - 22   In 2012 : April 2 - 21 

In 1521 : July 21 - August 9

Literal translation:   deer

Assumed original period: -

SOTZ’ (Sutz’)  Haab days 61-80

In 2011 : April 23 - May 12  In 2012 : April 22 - May 11 

In 1521 : August 10 - 29

Literal translation:   bat

Assumed original period: -

SEK (Kasew)  Haab days 81-100

In 2011 : May 13 - June 1  In 2012 : May 12 - 31

In 1521 : August 30 - Sept 18

Literal translation:   skull

Assumed original period: -

XUL (Chikin)  Haab days 101-120

In 2011 : June 2 - 21  In 2012 : June 1 - 20

In 1521 : Sept 19 - Oct 8

Literal translation:   end

Assumed original period: the end of the rainy season falls at the end of October.

YAXK’IN (Yak K’in)  Haab days 121-140

In 2011 : June 22 - July 11  In 2012 : June 21 - July 10

In 1521 : October 9 - 28

Literal translation:   new green sun

Assumed original period:  the beginning of the dry season, hence beginning of November.

MOL (Mol)  Haab days 141-160

In 2011 : July 12- 31  In 2012 : July 11- 30

In 1521 : Oct 29 - Nov 17

Literal translation:  picking, harvesting

Assumed original period:  December is the month of the year for maize harvesting.

CH’EN (Ik’ Sijom)  Haab days 161-180

In 2011 : August 1 - 20  In 2012 : July 31 - August 19

In 1521 : Nov 18 - Dec 7

Literal translation:   black Milpa, deer

Assumed original period: -

YAK (Yak Sijom)  Haab days 181-200

In 2011 : August 21 - Sept 9  In 2012 : August 20 - Sept 8

In 1521 : December 8 - 27

Literal translation:  green Milpa

Assumed original period: -

SAK (Sak Sijom)  Haab days 201-220

In 2011 : Sep 10 - 29  In 2012 : Sep 9 - 28

In 1521 - 1522 : Dec 28 - Jan 16

Literal translation:  white  Milpa

Assumed original period: -

KEH (Chak Sijom)  Haab days 201-220

In 2011 : Sept 30 - Oct 19  In 2012 : Sept 29 - Oct 18

In 1522 : Jan 17 - Feb 5

Literal translation:  red  Milpa, deer

Assumed original period: -

MAK (Mak)  Haab days 221-240

In 2011 : Oct 20 - Nov 8  In 2012 : Oct 19 - Nov 7

In 1522 : February 6 - 25

Literal translation:  Turtle Shell

Assumed original period: -

K’ANK’IN (Uniw)  Haab days 261-280

In 2011 : November 9 - 28  In 2012 : November 8 - 27

In 1522 : Feb 26 - March 17

Literal translation:   yellow sun

Assumed original period: in April, the fields are burnt to prepare the new sowing season which results in an orange coloured smoke.

In the old Year Bearer system as recorded on the stone inscriptions, this month will see the end of the Mayan long count (December 21 2012/4 AHAU 3 K’ANK’IN). In the new system put in place after the conquest, december 21st 2012 corresponds with the day 4 AHAU 3 PAX.

MUWAN (Muwan)  Haab days 281-300

In 2011 : Nov 29 - Dec 18  In 2012 : Nov 28 - Dec 17

In 1522 : March 18 - April 6

Literal translation:   tropical screech-owl  (Otus choliba)

Assumed original period: this sort of bird heralds the rainy season, hence end of April, beginning of May.

PAX (Paxil)  Haab days 301-320

In 2011-2012 : Dec 19 - Jan 7  In 2012-2013 : Dec 18 - Jan 6

In 1522 : April 7 - 26

Literal translation:   dawn of the drum of the year

Assumed original period: -

K’AYAB (K’anasiy)  Haab days 321-340

In 2012 : January 8 - 27  In 2013 : January 7 - 26

In 1521 : April 27 - May 16

Literal translation:   Yellow turtle

Assumed original period: -

KUMK’U (Hul Ol)  Haab days 341-360

In 2012 : Jan 28 - Fev 16  In 2013 : Jan 27 - Fev 15

In 1522 : May 17 - June 5

Literal translation:   The din of the gods

Assumed original period: June and July are the months where storms and thunder are most frequent.

This is the month in which the Mayan Long Count started (August 11 – 3114 / 4 AHAU 8 KUMK’U).

WAYEB (Uway Habl)  Haab days 361-365

In 2012 : February 17-21  In 2013 : February 16-20 février

In 1522 : June 6 - 10

Literal translation: The sleep of the HAAB

Assumed original period: -

The WAYEB is considered as an unlucky period from which the gods are absent. During those days the Mayas limit their actions. To be born on a WAYEB day is seen as a serious misfortune.








The current Year Bearers

The Aztec Year Bearers

The HAAB Bearers are therefore those of Group 2. They have been in force since the “Conquista” and prior to that they were used by the Mayas of the classical period in Tikal as well as by the Teotihuacan civilization.

As stressed by Kenneth Johnson, The Mayas have not always used the same year bearers (the Mayas of Yucatan of the post classical period used those of Group 4), as for the Aztecs, they used those of Group 3.

During the classical Mayan period (between the years 200 and 900) and according to the actual k’iche’ Count, the HAAB year starts on a 0-POP (you will see the description of the HAAB months momentarily). The year starting point was variable depending on civilizations, periods and even  Mayan ethnic groups.

As far as I am concerned, I shall stick to the 0-POP as the beginning of the year. We are presently since February 22nd, 2011 (the most recent 0-POP occurrence) in a 12-EB year.

In his blog Kenneth Johnson signals that these year bearers could soon change. As some of the Daykeepers are saying:

These four naguales (day-signs) have been carrying the burden of history for centuries now. It may very well be time for them to set down their weary loads, which must be taken up by a new group of Year Lords... There is an agreement forming among Mayan shamans that, if these changes in the tides of history continue, it is the Group 3 Year Lords that will bear the burden of time during the Fifth World. These four are Ben, Etznab, Akbal and Lamat (K’iche’: Aj, Tijax, Aq’ab’al, Q’anil).”

Please note that this very Group 3 was used by the Aztecs for whom this actual world is the 5th world and not the 4th as both the Mayas and the Hopis say.

The energies of the Year Bearers

The choice of a group of glyphs as year bearers is not neutral since each glyph conveys a different energy and therefore has an incidence on the year events both global and individual (like a birth).

CABAN is the dayglyph of mind, creative thought, discernment, intelligence and asserted convictions. CABAN years correspond to elections in the US, 2012 will be a 13-CABAN.

IK is the dayglyph of wind and communication. IK years are considered difficult because of the relationship between IK and the strength of the wind. 2001 and 2005 (Katrina year) were IK years.

MANIK is the dayglyph of responsibility, integrity and natural authority. The MANIK years correspond to both the coming in power of leaders of integrity and the fall of corrupt ones. 1974, the year of Watergate and Nixon’s fall was a MANIK year.

EB is the dayglyph of the “path of life” with a strong spiritual connotation. The EB years are mainly devoted to spiritual research and elevation. 1967, at the apex of the hippy movement and 2011 are EB years.

The vague year

As in the Julian calendar, the HAAB lacks the mechanism of simply wedging in an extra day every four years (leap year) to lock onto the exact duration of the 365,2425 day solar revolution.

The start of the Mayan year has thus been displaced of one day almost every four years since the HAAB creation. Hence, the Mayanists call the HAAB calendar the “ vague year” for its slow drifting.

Some people think the Mayas did not know the year exact duration but this is highly unlikely. Conversely, Kenneth Johnson, thinks they probably knew the solar year exact duration and that they deliberately let the HAAB drift so as to keep the conjunction with the TZOLK’IN and in particular with the year bearers. In his article “Y a-t-il des années surnuméraires mayas ?André Cauty signals the existence of numerous angles of approaching the HAAB and its equivalents in other pre-Columbian civilizations in the “Conquista” times which demonstrates the great number of attempts at finding solutions. Moreover, an external system for correcting has likely been developed. This system was based on the observation of the zenithal suns.

We note with interest that the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar settles the drifting issue of the Julian Calendar; this adoption took place in 1582 i.e. 50 years after the “Conquista”.

The Haab’s “Months”

The HAAB’s months start on a “0” day and finish on a “19” day for the first 18 days and on a “4” day for the final period, called the Wayeb.

Since the HAAB does not have a leap day, every 4 years it has a day difference with the Gregorian calendar.

One does not know with certainty the original periods covered by the HAAB in the times it was first used (Victoria Bricker reckons it was in 550 B.C. at the moment of the winter solstice. See Wikipedia).

These months’ glyphs and their meaning provide some directions yet they do not allow a formal determination.

The month’s names have tended to vary a lot according to areas and periods. The ones to be found here are expressed:

1.IN UPPERCASE: the name is in Yucatec language during the Conquista

2.(In brackets): the Pre-Conquista classical pronunciation.

The equivalents expressed in Gregorian dates are given in accordance with the present Quiche count (starting point 2011: 0-Pop – February 22, 2011). The dates in the times of the Conquista are reckoned starting there and taking into account the leap years and the 1582 Julian/Gregorian correction.






translation by Nelly Lewin

glyph design from Mayan Months by Mark Pitts

Illustration of the Year Bearer, staggering under the year glyph burden (MANIK in this case) and surrounded by a crown composed of the HAAB 19 months