You know that car commercial that’s been all over the tube recently, the one with a kid whaling away at a piñata that stubbornly refuses to break – a stand-in for the durability of this particular make of car? It brought me back to one of my earliest childhood memories, my own kiddie party, when my dad handed me a plastic bat to have the first whack at a piñata hanging from a big ol’ tree in our backyard (in what shape I have no memory). But for some strange reason I was too scared to smack it – so the other kids happily had at the thing until it burst, showering candy all over the lawn.
Well, I’m relieved to report I got over that early piñataphobia (note to self: mention to shrink next week), and in fact whenever I browse markets in Mexico, I love seeing these colorful paper-and-cardboard contraptions hanging in bunches in a bewildering variety of shapes ranging from traditional geometric (early piñatas were star-shaped) to animals to pop culture and current personalities (Bart Simpson, Justin Bieber, or Osama bin Laden, anyone?). Mexican piñatas a-go-go – ay, chihuahua, indeed.
Like many artifacts of modern Mexican culture, piñatas are a hybrid of colonial, Aztec and Maya traditions, introduced in 16th-century Catholic religious festivals as an adaptation of a pre-Columbian form involving clay pots. So you could say they’ve always been favorite party supplies; while outside Mexico they’ve been popular for generations mostly at children’s birthday parties, here in this country they’re also part of the posadas, the processions that kick off the Christmas season, and contain fruit and sugar cane in addition to wrapped candies. C’mon down for a warm break at Iberostar’s Mexico resorts this December and you’ll get a good taste of what I mean!
Photo | Wikipedia