has always been known world wide for it's fun and with its
hidden rewards makes it a memorable game for children and adults
alike. Today, many people are unaware of the original
significance of the piñata and participate in the game solely
for fun. Piñatas are especially popular during Las Posadas (to
ring in the Christmas season) and at birthday parties.
Of course, the religious significance of the piñatas for the
Spanish was quite different. The piñata represented Satan. It
was made beautiful and bright to get the attention of the
innocent person who came into contact with it. Candies and
fruits inside represented the temptations of the Devil. The
person trying to break the piñata was blindfolded as a
representation of blind faith. The stick for breaking the piñata
was a symbol of goodness, as only good can overcome evil. Once
broken, the candies and fruits then represented a just reward.
The moral of the story: all are justified through faith.
decorated clay pot also called a cantero represents Satan
who often wears an attractive mask to attract humanity. The most
traditional style piñata looks a bit like Sputnik, with
seven points, each with streamers. These cones represent the
seven deadly sins, pecados - greed, gluttony, sloth,
pride, envy, wrath and lust. Beautiful and bright, the piñata
tempted. Candies and fruits inside represented the cantaros
(temptations)of wealth and earthly pleasures.
piñata reflected three theological virtues in the catequismo.
(religious instruction or catechism)
blindfolded participant represents the leading force in defying
evil, ‘Fe’, faith, which must be blind. People
gathered near the player and spun him around to confuse his
sense of space. Sometimes the turns numbered thirty three in
memory of the life of Christ. The voices of others cry out
¡Enfrente! In front!
out engaños (deceits, or false directions) to disorient
the piñata served as a symbol of ‘Esperanza’,
With the piñata
hanging above their heads, people watched towards los cielos
(sky or heaven) yearning and waiting for the prize. The stick
for breaking the piñata symbolized virtue, as only good
can overcome evil. Once broken, the candies and fruits
represented the just reward for keeping faith.
the piñata symbolized ‘Caridad’, Charity.
With its eventual breaking, everyone shared in the divine
blessings and gifts.
of the piñata: all are justified through faith.
the piñata has lost its religious symbolism and most
participate in the game solely for fun. Piñatas are
especially popular during Las Posadas, traditional
processions ringing in the Christmas season and at birthday
parties. During festivities, people traditionally sing songs
while breaking the piñatas.
dale, dale, no perdas el tino,
porque si lo perdes, pierdes el camino.
Esta piñata es de muchas mañas, sólo contiene naranjas y cañas.”
Don’t lose your aim,
Because if you lose, you lose the road.
This piñata is much manna, only contains oranges and
popular song for hitting the piñata is rooted in the
year 1557 when dignitaries of Felipe II toured towns in New
Spain. While exacting pledges of allegiance, coins of nickel
were offered for coins of silver. This failed to please the
people so as they break piñatas during las posadas,
quiero níquel ni quiero plata:
yo lo que quiero es romper la piñata."
“I don’t want nickel/I don’t want silver
I only want to break the piñata…”
can be found in all shapes and sizes. Modern ones often
represent cartoon or other characters known to most children.
Others are shaped like fruits, baskets, rockets etc. Sometimes
people of political statue are satirized. At Christmas,
star-shaped piñatas suggestive of the Star of Bethlehem
are especially popular. One’s imagination is the creative
piñatas are filled with both candies and fruits. Around
Christmas in Mexico, wrapped candies, peanuts, guavas, oranges,
jicamas,(sweet root vegetable) sugar cane, and tejocotes
(a kind of crab apple) stuff piñatas. Some types of piñatas
called traps, are stuffed with flour, confetti or ‘flowery
water’. Any child without a treat after the goodies are
gathered from the ground is given a little basket full of
special candy. These colaciónes are kept on hand to
avoid hurt feelings and tears. The rest of the treats are passed
around to everyone before the party is over.
potters once existed to fashion ‘ollas piñateras’,
bare clay pots sold in the mercado. (market) People took
them home and pasted their own colored paper to them. Cardboard
and paper maché often fashioned over balloons has replaced ‘la
olla’ in many modern piñatas.
Piñatas can be found in
all shapes and sizes. Many represent cartoon or other characters
known to most children. Others are shaped like fruits, baskets,
rockets, etc. One's imagination is the limit. One classic shape
is the star, and it is very symbolic. When five-pointed, the
obvious reference is the pentagram (again, a symbol of the Devil
which must be defeated, or broken). Otherwise, it can be thought
of as the star the Wise Men followed to find Baby Jesus. Star piñatas
are especially popular at Christmas for these very reasons.
Traditionally, piñatas are
filled with both candies and fruits. Around Christmas in Mexico,
they are often filled with wrapped candies, peanuts, guavas,
oranges, jicamas, sugar cane, and tejocotes (a kind of crab
apple found in Mexico). Should any child be found without a
treat after all the goodies are gathered from the ground, little
baskets full of a special candy called colación are kept on
hand to avoid hurt feelings and tears. These are passed around
to everyone before the party is over.
versatility contributes to its perennial popularity. Fashioned
from a long tradition the joyous piñata continues to enchant
celebrations and parties around the world.