The piñata is an integral part of the Christmas season in México. The traditional piñata is in the form of a 7-pointed star made from a clay pot, although it is more common now to find paper maché piñatas. (
Fiesta Star Pinata)Depending on your source, the star represents the Star of Bethlehem or the devil with each point representing one of the 7 deadly sins. The piñata is broken with a stick, usually a broom or mop handle, that represents the strength from God through faith that allows the participant to romper (break) the hold of the 7 deadly sins and destroy the devil. The fruit and candy that fall from the demolished piñata represent the love and blessing of God. Just goes to show you that anything can be religified.
A piñata is broken each night of the 9-day posadas (See Celebrating Christmas–Las Posadas). After the singing of Pedir Posadas, prayers and refreshment, the chant of “¡No quiero oro, ni quiero plata, yo lo que quiero es quebrar la piñata!” is taken up. (I don’t want gold, I don’t want silver. All that I want is to break the piñata!)
So how do you break the piñata?
Children line up from youngest to oldest. The piñata is hoisted on a pulley which is manned by someone whose intent is to not allow it to be broken until all children have had a go at it. The first child is given the stick and may or may not be blindfolded. Usually, the younger children are not, but the older ones are both blindfolded and spun around several times. (
Fiesta Star Pinata)
Singing watchers form a rough circle and each child has until the end of the song to swing like mad and try to hit it to the tune of “¡Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el ritmo, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino; ya le diste uno ya le diste dos, ya le diste tres y tu tiempo se acabó!”
At the word acabó (finished) the swinger is supposed to hand the stick to the next child in line and not make a flurried series of last minute swings, but it seldom happens as smoothly as one would like. No matter how many piñata breakings children have attended and no matter how many times the parents caution restraint, there is always a mad rush at the first shower of candy and inevitably someone ends up bonked on the head and crying. Since there is never enough candy to go around, each child is given an aguinaldo (treat bag) to ease any hurt feelings or cracked skulls.
At the last piñata bashing we attended, not only were there head bonks, but there was an all-out fist fight and bloody nose between two teenagers over candy. We took our aguinaldos (treat bags) and high-tailed it out of there.
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