Popocatépetl is the Aztec word for "Smoking Mountain". Popocatépetl was an Aztec warrior who loved Iztaccíhuatl. Iztaccíhuatl's father sent Popocatepetl to war in Oaxaca. He promised him his daughter as his wife if he returned (which Iztaccíhuatl's father thought he would not). Iztaccíhuatl's father told her that her lover had died in battle. She died of sadness. When Popocatépetl returned, and found out about the death of his lover, he killed himself by stabbing a knife into his heart. The gods covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Iztaccíhuatl's mountain was called "La Mujer Dormida, (the "Sleeping Woman"), because it looks like a woman sleeping on her back. Popocatépetl became the volcano Popocatépetl, raining fire on Earth in anger at the loss of his lover.
Popocatepetl has had more than 20 big eruptions since the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. A major eruption happened in 1947. On December 21, 1994 the volcano threw out gas and ash which was carried as far as 25 km away by the wind. This led to people having to leave nearby towns. Scientists began to check the volcano for an eruption. In December 2000, tens of thousands of people were made to leave the area by the government based on the warnings of scientists. The volcano then made its largest display in thousands of years.
Media related to Popocatepetl at Wikimedia Commons