The Inca Calendar: The Andean Yearly Festivities during the Inca Times

Inca's society accounting depended heavily in the management of these series of cords called "quipus".

Explore the profound significance of the Inca calendar system and festivities, inviting you to step back in time and discover cultural richness.

Have you ever wondered if the incas had a calend or how did they managed their time from year to year?

We. at Peru Jungle Trips, would like to share this interesting info with you!

Building on Felipe Guamán Poma’s legacy, we explore his influential drawings and writing, significant contributions during his era.

Capac Raymi Caymi Quilla – January

Quoting Poma de Ayala’s “Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno” offers insight into Inca times, providing an understanding of historical conditions.

The first month is January, known as Cápac Raymi Caymi Quilla.

Indigenous practices endure with sacrifices, fasting, penances, ash rituals, and door exiles, reflecting ancient traditions in modern times.

Processions and stations took place in the temples of the sun, the moon, and the gods Uaca Bilcas.

In other Uacas, idols from each temple were worshipped.

They traversed from hill to hill, conducting ceremonies and weeping, led by the pontiffs, sorcerers, and confessor priests.

Offerings were made at the Guacas of Uanacauri and Pacaritambo, as well as other idols they possessed. This law and ordinance applied throughout the kingdom in the month of January, promoting obedience and the traditions of the realm.

Those who did not comply with these norms were sentenced to death and annihilation.

Ordered to fast, weep, perform penance, and abstain from relations. Ceremonies and sacrifices upheld kingdom customs.

Paucar Uaray hatunpucy – February

In this month, the Inca and the entire kingdom offered a large sum of gold, silver, and livestock to sacred places—the main idols.

They first dedicated offerings to the sun, the moon, the stars, the temples, the gods, and Uacabilca atop the highest hills and snowy peaks.

This occurred in the rainy season with heavy rainfall, and despite abundant herbs, there was a severe food shortage.

Herbs caused chambers; many elders, women, and children succumbed. Eating green, fresh fruit, coupled with hunger, resulted in bodily discomfort.

The “Uaray uara” month, marked by Earth’s vapor, linked to the appearance of zaragüeles. The term “uaray” associated with this period.”Uarachico” and “rutochico” persist, embodying bad customs and ancient laws among the unfaithful Indians, reflecting enduring practices.

Therefore, this kingdom should not allow the mentioned “uarachico” and “rutochico.”

The first and second month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The first and second month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala

Pacha Pucuy – March.

During this month, they sacrificed black rams to their idols and gods, Uacabilca and Orcocona. The pontiffs Uallauiza, Condeuiza, and the Laycaconas, sorcerers who communicated with demons, actively conducted many ceremonies while adhering to customary fasting practices on specific days.

They abstained from touching salt, refrained from consuming the flesh of women, and avoided eating fruits or using taquies. Additionally, they engaged in idolatrous ceremonies, a tradition initiated by the Incas. By this month, they already had food and began partaking in llullo papa, michica sara, and many mature herbs that were harmless and beneficial.

The scarcity of food ceased in the kingdom, and the livestock became fat, with an abundance of pasture. In this month of Pachapucuy, meaning “fertile world,” abundant rain fell. The land absorbed water, proving advantageous for cultivation throughout the realm.

Inca Raymi Quilla – April

In this month, they offered painted rams to guacas, idols, and common gods throughout the kingdom. Numerous ceremonies took place, and the Inca organized a grand celebration. He invited the great lords, leaders, and other influential figures, along with the poor indigenous people.

They gathered in the public square, eating, singing, and dancing. 

This celebration led to a lavish feast with plenty of wine called “yamur aca.” The month’s ripe food allowed the people of the kingdom to feast at the expense of the Inca.

During this month, birds and mice enjoyed abundant food. 

April, Yncaraymi, marked kingdom-wide celebrations. Haucayncas, including Cápac Inga and Uaccha Ingas, joyfully pierced their ears in a festive tradition. They invited each other, regardless of social status, whether rich or poor.

The third and fourth month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The third and fourth month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala

Aymoray Quilla – May

In this month, they offered other livestock painted in all colors. In Aymoray, there are other smaller celebrations.

Celebration ensues when finding paired cobs or potatoes. Gathering and storing in cullunas chauays pirua barrels lead to joyous revelry. They sing: “harauayo harauayo ylla sara camauay manatucocta surcoscayqui ylla mama acoya“.

In this month, communities and sapsi (storehouses) of corn and potatoes are visited, along with all the common food and livestock.

If they give a good account, the llama-miches sing, saying: “llamaya llamayayn yalla llamaya“, and they rejoice in this month of food abundance.

All the storage and houses of the poor are filled. They visit the dried herbs and what has been worked on to store, so that there is food throughout the year. To prevent hunger in the poor, the entire kingdom follows this account in this month of May, Aymoray Quilla.

Cuzqui Quilla – June

In this month, the moderate festival of Inti Raymi took place, involving significant expenditures.

The sun was sacrificed, and the ceremony of capacocha occurred, entailing the burial of five hundred innocent children, along with a considerable amount of gold, silver, and mullo.

Throughout the month, corregidores, judges, and michoc took stock of indigenous households, documenting properties, provisions, debts, and resources.

The sustenance of both men and women was assessed, checking whether they raised rabbits, ducks, or had livestock.

After completing this visit, another inspection took place in December, applying the same procedure to both officials and common indigenous people in the kingdom. The goal was to ensure an abundance of food for both the poor and the wealthy.

Orphans never suffered from hunger, as they had their own plantations and received seeds from their parcialidad.

The fifth and sixth month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The fifth and sixth month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala

Chacra Conacuy – July

In this month, they visited the mentioned crops and fields, distributing the surplus from the fallow and communal lands, which were cultivated for the community and sapsi, to the poor.

During this month, they sacrificed another hundred sheep of the color of yauarchunbe, which were left in the public square, along with a thousand white guinea pigs.

This sacrifice was performed to prevent damage to the crops, plantations, and fields by the sun and water. In this month, they began to sow food in the Andes, clouds entered the highlands, fields were cleared, manure was applied, and each person marked their inherited lands from their ancestors and parents.

In this month, despite improved weather, an epidemic struck the wealthy, elite, women, and children’s health. Livestock also suffered from illness, and many died from carachi if not treated by the shepherds in this kingdom.

Chacrayapuy quilla – August

In this month, they start working by plowing and breaking simple lands to plant corn.

In this month, the poor of this kingdom would sacrifice to the idols, uacas, with whatever they could afford, such as guinea pigs, mullo, zanco, chicha, and sheep.

Some offered their idols with their sons and daughters, each giving what they could in a year. They offered it in exchange for giving their child to the guaca, and they buried the child alive; the one giving their child would go crying.

This act was performed throughout the kingdom in this month, known as haylle, which coincides with the celebration of the Inga and the entire kingdom for the cultivation.

They drank in the minga, ate, sang haylli and aymaran, each their natural haylli. They invited each other, sharing meals and drinks instead of payment. Planting corn followed the sun’s cycle, adapting to the earth’s climate.

In this month, there is a great shortage of herbs and much meat but little fruit.


The seventh and eighth month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The seventh and eighth month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala

Coya Raymi – September

This month, people celebrate Coya Raymi to honor the moon, as Coya signifies queen and Raymi means a grand festival and feast.

People name it so because, in the celestial realm, they consider the moon the queen and mistress of the sun. Therefore, they dedicate a festival and feast to the moon.

During this month, people, especially women and noble ladies like Cápac Uarmi, Ñustas, Pallas, Aui, Capacommis Uayros, and other prominent women of the kingdom, enthusiastically rejoice. They invite men to join the festivities.

In September, the Incas commanded the expulsion of diseases and plagues from the villages and the entire kingdom.

Armed men, mimicking war, expelled diseases, loudly commanding them to leave the town, sprinkling water for purification of houses and streets.

Throughout the kingdom, people performed this ritual, accompanied by many other ceremonies to dispel negative influences like Taqui Oncoc, Sara Oncuy, Pucyo Oncuy, Pachapanta, Chirapa Oncoy, Pachamaca, Acapana, Ayapcha, Oncoycona.

Uma Raymi Quilla – October

In this month, people engaged in rituals, sacrificing to the uacas, principal idols, and gods, seeking rain. Another hundred white sheep were offered, and black sheep were tied in the public square without feeding them, intending to make them cry.

Simultaneously, dogs were tied, responding to observed noises and shouts; those that didn’t bark faced beatings. Furthermore, men and women, including children, sick individuals, the lame, blind, and elderly, all actively participated. Those with dogs brought them along, encouraging them to bark and cry for water from the sky. They addressed God with prayers and doctrine, expressing, “Ay, ay, let us weep, ay, ay, let us groan; your children are distressed with pain, and we can only weep to you.”

Following these prayers, a collective shout and cry emerged: “Runa camac micocpac rurac uari Uiracocha, Dios maypimcanqui, runayquiman yacoyquita unoyquita cacharimouay” (Oh Creator of men, what are you doing for those who eat? Uari Uiracocha, God, where are you? Release your water, your rains, for your people).

Consequently, they embarked on a procession, moving from hill to hill, shouting and groaning earnestly. They fervently asked God in the sky, Runacamac, for water.

The ninth and tenth month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The ninth and tenth month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala

Aya Marcay Quilla – November

This month was the month of the deceased. “Aya” means deceased, and it is the festival of the departed. In this month, they take the deceased from their vaults, known as “pucullo,” and provide them with food and drink.

They dress them in their rich garments, adorn them with feathers on the head, sing and dance with them, place them on a litter, and parade through houses, streets, and the square. Afterwards, they return them to their vaults, offering them meals and dishes, with the rich receiving silver and gold utensils, and the poor, those made of clay.

They provide them with sheep, clothing, burying them with these items and spending a considerable amount on this festival.

In this month, the Incas also pierce their ears and engage in “uarachicos” and “rutochicos.” The women, known as “quicocu,” fetch water from the streets and springs, celebrating the festival of “anacacuy cusmallicoy” for the children known as “quinaupi churcuy.”

In November, during “Aya Marcay Quilla,” the Inca ordered the general census of the population, military training for captains and soldiers, distribution of women, and marriages. Houses were roofed and walls erected in this month.

They visited the communal herds, sapsi, and individual indigenous people’s livestock. They also filled the depots known as “acllauasi” with virgin women who were to work and be skilled in spinning and weaving clothes for the Inca and other lords.

Capac Inti Raymi – December

In this month, they celebrated the grand festival and solemn feast of the sun. The sun reigns over the entire cycle of planets and stars, making “Cápac” mean king, “Inti” mean sun, and “Raymi” signify a grand feast, even more than “Inti Raymi.”

During this month, they made significant sacrifices to the sun, offering much gold, silver, and utensils. They buried five hundred innocent boys and girls, standing and alive, along with their golden and silverware, and many animals.

After the sacrifice, they held a grand celebration, feasting and drinking at the expense of the sun. They danced taquies (songs) and drank heavily in the public square of Cuzco and throughout the kingdom. Consequently, those who were intoxicated and causing trouble faced immediate execution.

Arguers wrapped, ordered in Quechua to leave in bad times, forcefully dragged if irritable, quarrelsome, discourteous, or hypocritical.

Even if they drank, they had to remain silent and sleep without committing any known sin; otherwise, they were killed. During that time, there were no drunkards as there are now. Today, they excuse the killer, claiming intoxication, encouraging more drunkenness, harm, and disobedience to God. This offense cannot be rectified by justice.

The punishment for quarreling or fighting while drunk was fifty lashes and being shaved. The one who killed was hanged immediately, representing good justice.


The eleventh and twelfth month of the Inca Calendar, drawings depicting the main activities for these months.
The eleventh and twelfth month of the Inca Calendar, depicted by Guamán Poma de Ayala


The chronist, revealing this chapter, concludes by noting that in ancient times, people equated a month’s conclusion with a year’s completion. They counted months and days, with a week ranging from one to ten days, and the months varied between thirty and thirty-one days. The duration of twelve months constituted a year.

Under this system, philosopher-astrologers maintained a detailed record of expenses and events in the kingdom. They used precise methods to plan planting, harvesting, and other significant occasions. Effective governance required accurate records detailing expenses, consumption, and specifying the month and year for each event occurrence.

To avoid errors in timekeeping, observers examined a ravine, interpreting the sunrise and the sun’s position as if it were a clock. This natural clock rotated clockwise for six months and counterclockwise for the next six, starting with the month quilla. This method served to count the month, marking the end of each cycle.

A crowd partying and raising their hands as the sun sets.

The calendrical journey mirrored agricultural cycles and spiritual depth, revealing a civilization profoundly connected to the mysteries of existence. The festivals were more than mere celebrations; they were sacred expressions of gratitude, propitiation, and communal unity.

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