La Piñata

Llegó a México con los españoles después de 1519. Llegó a España de Italia. A Italia llegó en el siglo XII de China debido a Marco Polo. Los chinos hacían sus piñatas en forma de animales domésticos, con papeles de colores, pegándoles con palos de diferentes colores. Las llenaban de semillas y les colgaban instrumentos agrícolas, celebrando el inicio de la primavera. En Europa se le puso significado religioso, poniéndolas en Cuaresma con el primer domingo, el Domingo de la Piñata, ya haciéndola en forma de estrella, con dulces y vendando los ojos del golpeador. En América, se empezó a usar como atracción para que la gente fuera a los servicios católicos. El mexicano la hizo suya...

La piñata, Diego Rivera, México

La Piñata (Zermeño Column, Daily Review, Hayward, CA, 01/xii/04)

I was shopping for a piñata the other day, over at Chávez Market, on Tennyson and Tampa (n Hayward, CA). There were so many! I asked one of the employees, María, what was their best seller. She said that they all were. I believe it...the piñata really has taken off here in the US.

This reminded me of my first piñata, back when I was six years old...a bright star which I wanted to reach out for and hit it with a broomstick. It is a exciting.

That was a real piñata! A clay pot with seven arms all richly colored with crepe paper and hanging from a tree out in front of our mom and pop grocery store on Calle Medrano, Guadalajara.

Where is the piñata from, you ask? Well, in his travels, Marco Polo found the Chinese hitting animal shaped figures, with a small ceramic vase inside filled with seeds as a celebration of the new year, and the beginning of Spring. They were hit and the remains were burned and collected by the folks for good luck during the year.

He liked the spectacle/tradition, and took it to Italy. The Italians adopted it for Lent, and began using a small clay pot, a 'pignatta.' Now you know the origin of the word 'piñata'.

The Spaniard took this 'pignatta,' changed it to 'piñata,' kept the tradition in Lent and began decorating the 'olla' (clay pot) with paper and ribbons. The burning became Las Fallas, where huge statues are made, paraded, and burned, especially in Valencia. That is a must see festival.

The Spanish missionaries, now in Latin América, put arms in the piñata, to make the piñata represent the north star, and used them as a great aid in converting the mesoamerican people to the Catholic religion. Another variation of the piñata back then, was a seven star piñata, with seven cones or arms, which represented the seven deadly sins. The piñata whacker would then be defeating the seven deadly sins, overcoming evil. Of course, the children back then loved these piñatas, which were now filled with fruit and candy, and that helped the missionaries tremendously, since they took their parents along.

The Aztecs and Mayas already had a similar tradition, as an offering to their gods and as sport, which made it even simpler for the missionaries to convert our American ancestors, since all they did was make a couple of changes to those pre Columbian traditions.

There is a song for piñatas. It goes 'hit it, hit it, hit it, don't miss, because if you miss, you'll get lost.' Believe me, it sounds much better when I sing it, even a capella.

Once the child, who is blindfolded except for the very, very young, breaks the piñata, all the kids jump in. The strongest and quickest ones obtain all the candy and the small ones begin crying, since they are not able to get's the piñata law.

One variation, here at home, is that many non Latino parents package candy to ensure that every child has a share of candy. That, folks, is cheating.

We always have piñatas at our Cinco de Mayo Festival in Downtown, Hayward, and it is highlight for the parents and the children. The most popular piñatas have been of their favorite animals and stars.

Don't forget the piñata at your next party. Be generous with its content, but please, don't burn it. Your event will be worth it.

I'm at , 510.732.2746 or at Hayward on! Gracias mil.


(de mi buena amiga, Karina Cachón, Cuernavaca, 11/xii/04)

Canción de la piñata

Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tino,
Porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino.
Esta piñata es de muchas mañas,
Sólo contiene naranjas y cañas.
La piñata tiene caca,
Tienen caca,
Cacahuates de a montón.
Esta piñata es de muchas mañas,
Sólo contiene naranjas y cañas.
No quiero oro, ni quiero plata,
Yo lo que quiero es romper la piñata.
Ándale Juana, no te dilates
Con la canasta de los cacahuates.
Anda María, sal del rincón
Con la canasta de la colación.
En esta posada nos hemos chasqueado
Porque Teresita nada nos ha dado.
Échenles confites y canelones
A los muchachos que sun muy tragones.
Todos los muchachos rezaron con devoción,
De chochos y confites les dan ya su ración.
Castaña asada, piña cubierta,
Echen a palos alos de la puerta.
Ándale Juan, sal de hornilla
Con la botella de la manzanilla.
De los Cerritos y los cerrotes
Saltan y brincan los tejocotes.
Ándale niña, sal otra vez
Con la botella del vino jerez.
Esta posada le tocó a Carmela,
Si no da nada le saco una muela.

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