The Aztecs had many names for their sun god. The were Tonatiuh, Huitzilochtli, and Tezcatlipoca (smoking mirror).
The Aztecs considered themselves chosen people by the sun, but they often thought that the sun was a dark symbol of destruction. They knew that permanent disappearance of the sun would mean death to everything on Earth. The Aztecs were possessed by a terrible fear that this would happen. Each sunset seemed like a failure in the spark of life. The Aztecs believed that the sun god had to battle each night with the many gods of darkness. Each night he died in battle and each night he was born again. The Aztecs believed that the sun god could only be restored by human blood. A handsome young man captured in battle was chosen to personify the sun. For a year he was given honors, fine clothes, and four beautiful girls to wait on him. He was taught to play sacred music on his flute and people kissed the ground where he walked.
When the year was up, he went to the pyramid of the sun. He mounted the steps slowly, just as the sun rises slowly in the east. At the top, a priest cut open the man's chest with only one cut and raised his still beating heart to the sun.
This victim was not the only one to be sacrificed. Thousands of people, mostly war prisoners, gave their hearts to the sun. Each person was painted yellow first.
The Aztecs had other ways to please the sun. One of the ways was by playing ball games which were held on holy ground near the temples. Players tried to knock a rubber ball through a hole in rings at the center of the court without using their hands or feet. The ball could be struck with the thigh, knee, head or shoulder. Each flight of the ball represented the journey of the sun across the sky.