Piñata History

How Piñatas Have Evolved from Clay to Drawstring Piñatas

Piñata history tells us that pinatas are deeply rooted in Hispanic culture and it’s believed that piñatas were first used in gatherings of the Aztecs and the Mayans. See the article Mexican Piñata to learn more about it.

Based on Hispanic origins, the pinata history started off as clay pots shaped in the figure of the Mayan gods or Aztec gods.

The clay pots were broken with the use of poles or sticks. When the contents of the pots spilled out, indigenous people believed that favors from the gods were being poured out and abundance would follow in the community.

In the olden times, on the birthday of the Huitzilopochitli, the Aztec god of war, priests would hang a clay pot from one of the temple poles.

The pot was decorated with feathers and inside the pot were colorful stones, nuts, bead ornaments, painted stones or berries. The pot was broken with a stick and the contents spilled on the feet of the god. This was the offering to the god.


Breaking la Piñata
by Marcela Hede

The Mayan story of piñatas would have it as a game. The main player of the game had his eyes blindfolded. With the cloth on his eyes, he tried to hit the pot that hangs from a height.

It’s also possible that piñatas originated from China. In Chinese New Year, Marco Polo found the Chinese making figures of buffaloes, cows and oxen and covering them with colored paper. They then put harnesses on these figures and the mandarins knocked these figures with sticks.

When the figures broke, seeds of various colors spilled out. These seeds were burned and the ashes were gathered signifying good luck for the whole year.

The pinata history continues in Europe when it was adopted as part of the celebration for Lent. Clay was used for making a piñata and they were shaped as a pineapple. The piñata custom spread from Spain where the pot was decorated with tinsel, ribbons and fringed paper.

The Spanish missionaries brought the piñata custom with them to North American and used it to attract people to ceremonies to convert them.

Aside from being shaped like a pineapple or a regular pot, the piñata was seen to have the shape of a seven pointed figure that represented the seven deadly sins.



Piñata History Evolves to bring New Piñata Designs

Some of the most popular pinatas that still preserve some of the pinata history of the olden times are Las Posadas pinata, the star pinata, and Mexican pinatas with the seven points.

Today’s pinatas have evolved to represent not only religious believes but fun characters that we love like a Star Wars pinata, Dora pinata, dinosaur pinata, Sponge Bob pinata, and Spiderman amongst others.

One of the most popular pinatas today is the draw string pinata because of its ease of use. Kids dance around the piñata holding one of the strings until told to pull from it to release all the piñata fillings. Many places in the U.S. are requesting draw string piñatas because of safety issues.

When we were planning my son’s birthday party last year, the manager of the birthday place preferred a draw string piñata, we didn’t … and the kids loved being blindfolded and hitting the piñata!

We didn’t use a typical Mexican pinata but one that went with the theme of the party and we ordered it online, hassle free and at a very good price.

Here is a selection of new style pull string piñatas and traditional pinatas you can choose from. The convenience of the pull string is undeniable but still much of the fun of the pinata process resides in breaking it while blindfolded.

Now that you know the piñata history venture into using one for either Christmas if you are celebrating Las Posadas, for your child’s birthday or simply to enjoy throwing a Latino fiesta.

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