Do you know where the famous piñatas come from? They originate in China and were used for New Year celebrations. Marco Polo took this tradition to Italy where it was adapted for the festivals of Lent. In Italy, they were made in the form of a “pine cone” and hence received the name “pignata“. From Italy, it passed to Spain who took the tradition to the New World as a way to evangelize!
The practice was then disseminated to Mexico where the missionaries began to use them in their religious ceremonies. At that time, they were made of earthenware pots covered with colored paper.
It is believed that modern piñatas originated along with Christmas parties, referred to in the beginning as “Christmas masses” in Acolman, Nezahualcoyotl, a current state of Mexico. The original piñata was shaped like a star with seven peaks representing the 7 deadly sins and bright colors alluded to the temptation. The candy inside represented the treasures of paradise. In other words, if you win the temptation of sin (the act of breaking the piñata with a stick) you win the kingdom of heaven. The stick represents the virtue and the will to overcome the temptations of sin. And the blindfold is an allegory of faith.
Currently, piñatas are a tradition of different celebrations not only in Mexico and its surrounding areas. In Puerto Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, and now also in Mexico, piñatas are another part of children’s birthdays. Although made of different materials and designs, they bring joy to children with its rain of confetti and sweets!
During Hispanic Heritage month, I will tell you how to make a nice piñata to celebrate whatever you wish!
To make a piñata you will need the following supplies:
-Cardboard (the amount and size will depend on the shape and measurements of your piñata)
–Crepe Paper in the colors you like the most!
First, draw or transfer the design of your piñata to a cardboard: It could be a slice of watermelon, a burrito, a star or whatever design you want! Cut two equal pieces. You will need several strips of cardboard 6″ wide that will serve as a bellow for your piñata. You will bend these strips in a way to adapt to the shape of your piñata. Use adhesive tape to join the parts (The two equal pieces and the bellow). You should leave some kind of opening to add sweets or if you prefer, you can add them to the piñata before closing it completely.
Then, cut short strips of crepe paper and make small fringes on the edges. Use these strips to decorate your piñata by pasting with glue!
If you want to make a 7 peak star, you will need additional supplies:
-A large balloon
-7 sheets of cardstock
-Hard bristles brush
First, inflate your balloon; this will be the center of your piñata! Cut newspaper into strips, which you will paste on the balloon until you cover it with the help of paste and a brush.
Repeat the process in 5 layers. This technique is called paper maché.
Let dry well between each layer. Then set for one day until it hardens. Cut the top of the balloon and pop it. Don’t be scared! This is where you will add your sweets!
Decorate your piñata—as with the previous design—and decorate with crepe paper in any color you like!
Finally, make the peaks with cardstock stuck to the base of your decorated balloon. At the tips, paste strips of crepe paper (without cutting the fringes and thinner strips).
You can make a hole at the top to hang in a suitable place. It should not be too high to allow the little ones to break it and enjoy the surprises inside!
See you soon!