What is the origin of piñatas?

Origin of piñatas

Have you ever wondered where the piñatas came from or who were the first to make them?

In a first impression we can think that it has its origin in the Mexican people. What comes to mind when I think of a piñata are the colorful forms of animals, full of paper fringes, typical of Latin parties.

if you share this idea you will be surprised to know that the origin of piñatas is actually Asian.

A bit of history

It was the Chinese people who first created and used the piñata for the New Year celebrations, which coincided with the beginning of spring, and with the traditional rituals related to agriculture.

With forms of animals (cows and oxen), they were filled with various types of seeds and covered with colored papers and thus attract the good weather for the following season.

After breaking with a wooden stick, the remains were burned and then the ashes were distributed and stored, believing it would bring good luck.

It is believed that it was Marco Polo who, in the 14th century, during his travels, brought the idea and tradition of the piñata to Europe, adapting it later to religious festivities.
Initially its used a simple ceramic container, to which with time decorations of all kinds were added.

The word piñata can have its origin in the Italian word of its same pronunciation (“pignatta”) that means “fragile recipient”.

Relationship to religion

After it arrived in Europe in the 14th century, Italians and Spaniards adapted this tradition to the Christian religion and began to use it in the Lenten festivities, making it part of celebrations and dances.

This tradition then travels with the colonizers to America, where a similar rite already existed in the local civilizations.

The missionaries used them, full of decorations, to attract parishioners, while representing the image of the Devil and his temptations.

The seven peaks of the original Mexican piñatas symbolize the seven capital sins, the sweets and surprises symbolize the temptations and the stick or bar that is used to break it, the virtue or blind faith (for that reason the eyes of the player are also blindfolded).

The piñata is beaten until breaking it, to defeat the evil and the passions of the earthly life.

The piñata and the festivities

With time, and as happened with several traditions that originated in religious traditions, this became part of popular festivals in Mexico, more specifically Christmas and birthdays.

Today piñatas are decorative elements and entertainment for the children who participate in these events. they are made in paper mache or cardboard and filled with candy and surprises.

They are in the form of animals, cartoon characters or television characters and are decorated with coloured papers.

It hangs from a tree held by a person (taller than children!) and the little ones try to break it by hitting it with the wooden stick (and if they are very small, pulling strips that hang from the bottom of the piñata), to sing the song of the piñata.

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