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Spring Equinox

The spring equinox marks the end of the cold winter months and the beginning of spring, the magical revival of colorful landscapes all around. 

In Mexican culture, the spring equinox has been of crucial significance for centuries. It’s the time of renewal, rebirth, and fertility. 

Spring Equinox Celebrations Around Mexico

During the spring equinox, a variety of celebrations occur throughout Mexico. People travel to archeological sites located all over the country to participate in the spring welcoming celebrations. 

Chichen Itza 

Chichen Itza is perhaps the most well-known example of Mexican historical architecture celebrating the spring equinox. 

The Mayans, like many historic cultures, looked up to the skies to try to understand the world they lived in. They studied the passing of the sun and stars and created calendars that helped them to keep track of natural events and take care of their agriculture cycle. 

The legendary Mayan city of Chichen Itza is located between Merida and Cancun. In 1998 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007 it was declared one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. 

Locals and tourists gather around the 79-foot-tall Kukulkan Pyramid, also called El Castillo (the Castle) on the day of the spring equinox. The Mayas constructed this pyramid in a way that every year the shadow of the sun gives the illusion of a diamond-shaped serpent coming down the steps.

El Templo Mayor (The Great Temple)

Located in the heart of Mexico City, the great temple is the place, according to legend, where the gods told the Aztecs to establish the capital of the Mexican Empire, Tenochtitlan. El Templo Mayor was the center of religious and social activity in the pre-Hispanic period. 

To the Aztecs, the arrival of the spring equinox was full of religious sentiment mixed with symbolism. 

The temple was dedicated in honor of two gods. The god Huitzilopochtli whose name means “Hummingbird on the Left/South” was the deity of war, sun, and human sacrifice. The Aztecs believed that the south was the left side of the world. The god Tlaloc whose name means “He Who Makes Things Sprout” was the god of rain, water, lightning, and agriculture. 

The temple had two towers, one for each god. On the day of the spring equinox when the sun rose, its rays shone exactly between the two towers in a breathtaking spectacle to be enjoyed by everyone present.

Teotihuacan (The Place Where The Gods Were Created)

Considered a holy city, this impressive settlement is located about 30 miles north of Mexico City. Many people travel here the day of the spring equinox to experience the energy that emanates from this site. They dress in white with a red accessory like a scarf. They dance, burn incense, and chant. Visitors climb the 360 steps towards the top of the Pyramid of the Sun between 9 am and 1 pm.  At the top, with outstretched arms, they greet the spring equinox and ask the gods for energy and health. Some may get there early and observe the sun rising over the Apan Mountains, an astonishing view.

Guachimontes (Place of Gourds)

This Pre-Columbian archaeological site is located in the northern part of the state of Jalisco, in the town of Teuchitlán. This place has a very particular architecture composed of conical step-structures that resemble round pyramids. You will find there two ceremonial areas, ancient house mounds, terraced hillsides, one major and minor plaza, and an area designated for ball games. Here during the time of the spring equinox, a variety of activities take place.   

Cerro de la Mesa Redonda (The Round Table Hill)

This is not an archeological site, but it is a very good location to receive the spring equinox. Located at the Lagos de Moreno valley in the state of Jalisco, at 6,824 feet above sea level, it has an impressive view. This place got its name because at the top it looks like a round table. 

The Cerro de la Mesa Redonda is home to two species of cactus endemic to the region and animals like rabbits, boars, and deer. Hiking trails are organized for the spring equinox day. It is also interesting to note that some visitors claim to have observed extraterrestrial life here.

El Tajin (Bolt of Lightning / Thunder)

Located in the municipality of Papantla in the state of Veracruz, this archeological site has numerous temples, ball courts, palaces, pyramids, and decorative niches.

In 1992 it was named a World Heritage by UNESCO because of its architecture and cultural significance. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Veracruz; in 2017, it attracted 386,406 visitors. 

Although this site does not have a prime view of the spring equinox compared to other sites. It is worth visiting, as it happens at the same time as the Cumbre Tajin Festival, a colorful celebration, full of timeless traditions like the Voladores (flying men). 

Besides visiting archeological sites in Mexico the spring equinox is also celebrated with ancient rituals still alive today, such as Limpias. Getting a “limpia” is a ritual that aims to purify our spirit. A shaman performs the ceremony using flowers, herbs, oils, rocks, incense, candles, water, together with music and singing. This way you are supposed to get rid of all bad energies and be ready to receive only good vibes in the new life cycle. 

Come and celebrate this spring equinox at Conrad Punta Mita in Mexico, and be a part of Mexican tradition. Come and experience the authentic Mexico you’ve never seen. Celebrate the history, savor the luxury at Conrad. 

What is a Temazcal?

You may have heard that a Temazcal is a kind of “sweat lodge” that helps to eliminate toxins and relax by sweating. However, the Temazcal is much more than that. A Temazcal possesses deep spiritual meaning.

The Grandmother of the Baths  

The origin of the Temazcal goes at least five thousand years back, to the prehispanic period. Originated with the people inhabiting Mesoamerica. Temazcal or Temazcalli in the Náhuatl language comes from these three words:

“Tetl”, means rock

“Mazitli”, means hot, and 

“Cali” means house

All together it is interpreted as “House of the burning rocks”.

The indigenous people of Mexico employed this physical and spiritual healing bath as a way to pay tribute to the goddess Temazcaltoci. According to Aztec mythology, Temazcaltoci, whose name means “Grandmother of the baths” was considered the goddess of medicine, revered by shamans in prehispanic times. It was mostly performed after a ballgame or a battle as a way of purification.

The Temazcal 

The Temazcal structure represents Tonantzin’s womb, considered “the mother of the gods”. You can find Temazcales made from various materials and shapes. Although the most common one is the round one, some rectangular and square Temazcales have been found at archeological sites. Materials like volcanic rock, cement adobe, wood with mud and cloth can be used to build a Temazcal. The small entrance should be facing east, as it symbolizes the entrance of the sun. A hole in the center of the Temazcal is dug to place the hot volcanic rocks. Also, it can have bare ground, sand, palm leaves, or in some cases a petate (carpet made of palm leaves). 

The Ritual of the Temazcal 

No two Temazcales are alike. The Temazcal comes alive and gets its tone depending on the energy of the place and the people participating. The idea is to connect with the cosmos, with nature, to explore our relationship with mother earth.

The Temazcal usually starts by asking permission to the logs that will be given to the “grandfather fire” to heat the volcanic rocks. These, in turn, will transform into “wise grandmothers”. When hot, the rocks are placed inside the hole in the floor in the center of the Temazcal.

Participants kneel when entering the Temazcal, kiss the earth and ask to enter the maternal womb. They give thanks for the rebirth they are about to experience. Additionally, the guide would suggest having an intention in mind about what area of your life you would like to focus on. Once inside, water is poured on top of the hot rocks, producing steam. Herbs like copal or sage are added to help the cleansing process.  

How to Prepare For Your First Temazcal

Probably the first time you are about to try something new, you get a feeling of excitement mixed with a bit of nervousness, which is understandable. We all begin there. 

For your first Temazcal, I would like to point out a couple of things to consider that would make your first Temazcal experience even more enjoyable. 

  • Choose your clothes wisely. 

Believe me, you don’t want to have too little or too many pieces of clothing. Your best bet will be a bathing suit and shawl/blanket combination. A bathing suit is the best piece to wear inside the Temazcal as you want to sweat all those toxins away. However, when coming out, you might get chilly. A blanket, shawl, or a pareo will keep you from getting cold. Also, remember to bring a small towel or any piece of cloth to clean the sweat and dirt that inevitably you will encounter inside the Temazcal. 

  • Be well rested and have a small light meal.

When you are planning to participate in a Temazcal, choose a day after a good relaxed and quiet night. Having a small meal before entering the Temazcal is recommended. Not enough sleep and/or a heavy meal can take the enjoyment away from the experience. As you will be exposed to high temperatures, your body needs to be in a state where it is predisposed to relaxation and tranquility. Don’t forget also to be well hydrated.

  • If you don’t feel well, be calm.

The heating sensation can make some people a bit uneasy, and they may feel that there is not enough air inside the Temazcal. This could cause a panicking sensation, hyperventilation, or feeling like you might faint.

If you start to feel alarmed, remember, if you get close to the floor it is cooler. Bring your head down and close to the earth, it will cool you down. Also, do not try to run outside as the sudden change of temperature may cause you to faint. Just breathe deeply and calmly, and try to adapt to the environment. The Temazcal does not present any health risk, but if you do not want to continue, tell the person guiding the experience that you would like to leave, it is ok.

Nevertheless, if you have any health conditions please consult with your physician before joining the Temazcal.

  • Go with the flow 

The Temazcal is an ancient ritual, therefore it has certain ceremonial steps. Listen to your guide to honor the process you are taking part in. Things like bringing your forehead to the ground signaling gratitude to Ometeol, the Mexican god of duality, and entering or leaving the Temazcal clockwise, are elements of the ceremony. 

Temazcal as part of your Wedding Celebration 

Your wedding is an extraordinary occasion filled with countless individual moments that make it unforgettable. What better than including the ancient Mexican ritual of Temazcal into your wedding celebration. Conrad Punta Mita is the only luxury resort in the Bay of Banderas area with a Temazcal on-site. Let our expert planners take care of all the details for you. Start your new married life in a state of relaxation, inner peace, and connectedness to your spouse and life itself. Forever begins here.