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The Similarities Between the Aztec Religion & Christianity

Aztecs worshipped their own religion until the mid-16th century when Spanish Conquistadors forced their conversion into Catholicism. This conversion was simplified by the similarities between the two religions. These similarities included a reverence for the cross symbol, idea of the sacred mother and their adherence to the practices of baptism and confession.

The Cross

The Christian and Aztec religions both accepted the cross as a religious icon. The actual styles of each cross were different but they shared the basic symbol. For Christians, the cross is a sign for Christ and a redemption symbol. Christians associated it with the New Testament following and kept it as an enduring symbol of their religion. For the Aztecs, the cross was a symbol for their rain god. The Aztec rain god cross represented the four directions that the rains came from.

Revered Female Figure

The Christian and Aztec religions both revered a strong female religious figure. While the exact nature of these religious figures is very different, the idea of a divine mother holds a central meaning to both. Catholics revere the Virgin Mary as a beloved religious figure. Mary's status, as Christ's mother, is central to the Catholic vision of the mother and grants her a place as a religious figure. Aztecs viewed Tonantzin as a religious mother figure, referring to her as "our mother," and assigning her power over fertility. The Aztec vision of fertility included human fertility and agricultural fertility, making Tonantzin a central mother figure in both family and natural aspects.

Baptism

Baptism held a nearly identical purpose for both religions. It was a process of soul cleansing for the Aztecs, just as it is in Christianity. The Aztec practice of baptism was likely more similar to the Christian practice of full immersion baptism. When the Aztecs were converted to Christianity, they arrive by as many as 14,000 a day to get baptised into the new religion.

Confession

Both Christians and Aztecs had a similar understanding of the practice of confession. They both revered the practice but held it in different places in their religions. For Catholics, confession is a sacrament, a necessary component to living a religious life. Aztecs viewed confession as an opportunity for forgiveness. Their faith allowed an Aztec to confess to any first-time sin and receive forgiveness, but if they committed it a second time, their religion disallowed a second confession.

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About the Author

Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.