Pinatas in Mexico – Are Piñatas really from Mexico?

Pinatas in Mexico are well known throughout the world and have served as inspiration for different sources of entertainment being already something very representative of Mexico, but the truth is that Piñatas have their origin many miles away from Mexico.

In this blog I will tell you the origin of the piñatas and the different traditions around these peculiar figures so you can learn more about their history.

Table of Contents

1. Origin of the Mexican Pinata

The origin of the piñatas seems to be in China, where large figures made of paper representing different animals were created, filled with seeds and colored sticks were used to break them and the main objective was to have a good harvest and finally they were set on fire.

Apparently, Marco Polo in his trips to China saw the ritual and took this tradition to Italy and there the figures received the name of “Pignatta” which means “pot” being part of the festivities of Lent Sunday and later came to Spain.

When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, among all the new traditions and products they introduced to the country the piñatas. The Spaniards used them as a way to evangelize the indigenous people symbolizing the eternal struggle of good and evil, they were part of the Lenten celebrations and later became part of the end of the year festivities.

Although according to some historians the Mexicas had a similar tradition in which they broke a clay pot filled with cocoa as an offering to their gods and when the Spaniards brought their version of the Piañata was that both versions came together.

In the same way the Piñata brought by the Spaniards was added the Chinese paper and originated as it is today in the town of Acolman in the state of Mexico.

pinatas in mexico

2. Meaning of the pinata

The piñatas as we know them today are made with a clay or cardboard pot covered with different colored Chinese paper and filled with fruits, peanuts, candies and toys.

  • The traditional piñatas have 7 spikes each representing the 7 deadly sins.
  • The stick used to break the piñata represents the force with which each of the spikes was destroyed.
  • The blindfolded eyes are a sign of faith in God.
  • The paper of the colors used are the representatives of temptation.
  • The most common fruits inside the piñata are jicamas, canes, tejocotes, limes, oranges and tangerines.
  • The fruits and sweets inside the piñata represent the riches of “paradise”.

3. Tradition of the pinata

It is a tradition to break the piñatas in the famous “posadas navideñas” that are celebrated just 9 days before Christmas (from December 16 to 24) and where breaking the piñata is part of the different activities of these holidays.

As I mentioned in the origin of the Piñata, here in Mexico they were made in the town of Acolman and that is where every year the Piñata fair is celebrated where you can see and be part of many activities such as dances, musical performances, horse races, sale of crafts, Mexican cuisine and also the posadas, of course there are a huge amount of piñatas for sale and even workshops to build your own piñata.

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