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Updated on October 31, 2016

A Treasure Chest Pinata, filled with treasures

My little boy, blindfolded and hitting the pinata with a bat on his birthday.
My little boy, blindfolded and hitting the pinata with a bat on his birthday. | Source

Pinatas are fun, but have some historical meaning as well.

Growing up in Southern California, it wasn't long before I was able to experience my first pinata at a Christmas celebration. After that, I went to birthday parties where there were pinatas. As a child, I have to tell you that whoever came up with the idea of the pinata game was a genius! Just the sheer excitement it generates in children is a fun thing to behold.

Pinatas seem to go back in history as far back as the 14th century in Italy. Later, Spain took the European tradition to Mexico. There is other evidence that the Mayans had their own version of pinatas in their history as well. There were different variations of it including ones with pottery, cloth, and paper mache. There were different reasons or focuses of engaging in such a tradition. Some date back to using them as a Catholic evangelistic tool! The image in this case was one of a person of faith, trying to hit the pinata which represented something like the seven deadly sins, and inside were temptations that could pour out. The person being turned around thirty three times represented the thirty three years of Jesus' life. The dizziness that was accompanied with this represented how disorienting sin and temptation can be.

To the one that could break the pinata, showed success in conquering tempation and sin, and was thus rewarded with the treats inside. I found this information absolutely fascinating. Keep in mind that this is just one Mexican Catholic rendering of what a pinata could represent long ago.

Look at his smile, and that of the whale too!


Making and Experiencing Pinatas

One year in an art class in my school, we made our own pinatas! I was so excited about this, but I have to admit that it sounded impossible. It was made with paper mache of course. Granted, this has been some time ago, but if my memory serves, we used a large balloon and taped other smaller baloons together ot make whatever shape we wanted. Using a starch liquid and pieces of colored tissue, we pasted on layers of tissues all over in the design and color of our liking. This is a messy thing, but very fun. A day or two later, after fully dry, we can "pop" the inner balloon if it is still in tact, and the starch holds its shape. We cut a little opening or door in the side. You don't want to make a full hole, so that you can close it up and even tape it after filling with candy. This isn't an attempt to teach the process here, as I don't recall the exact amounts and kinds of liquids needed. It is just an attempt to share the experience. It was rewarding to make our own pinatas.

Later in life, I didn't do a whole lot with pinatas until we had our own kids. We always tried to help them to have a nice birthday party, and while not too fancy at times, a pinata can bring a lot of fun to childrens birthday parties. We never did many spins in terms of turning them around. When they are younger, even just blindfolding with a loose bandana is enough to give them a little challenge. I always recommend having an adult in charge, often it was my husband that was holding the rope that caused the pinata to go up and down. That is often very handy if there are older kids playing, and you want to make it a bit more challenging. Then for the smaller children, you can bring it more down to their level.

Having a pinata like this at an event of any kind is really so fun to do. If you have never done it, I can highly recommend it. You just want to be careful what yo use for your stick, and if its something like a bat, then you need to make sure everyone is far enough back to not get hit by the person swinging it around.

A very colorful pinata with cones and tassles!
A very colorful pinata with cones and tassles! | Source

In this article, I shared a couple of our own pinatas over the years. You see the first one is a treasure chest, which I thought was a very cute idea. There was another one of a smiling whale, which I thought was extra cute and fun. We have done a few others as well. Really, the sky is the limit with the various ideas you can use. From cartoon characters to inanimate objects like footballs, you can find a pinata that will surely be fitting for your own personal celebration. Its far too easy, to not try at least once. Everyone really enjoys a pinata at a party. You can use cute little bags or simple brown paper lunch sacks for people to put the treats they get once the pinata is broken.

My words of warning include making sure people don't run in prematurely once the candy or treats begin to fall. You can make up your own rules ahead of time, to everyone feels its fair. If there is one part that isn't breaking off, a person in charge can shake out the rest of the treats as everyone is scrambling to get in on the fun. The other warning is to make sure you don't assume any pinata will ever have candy inside. I heard of that happening once, so I thought I would mention that here, to avoid any true disappointment!

With the way that time flies, we cherish all our memories we have made over the years at birthdays and holidays. Pinatas can be a very fun part of those times, even if its just for a small portion of the event. I can imagine that even at something like a family reunion, it would be a fun game or event to do!

Pinata Poll

Have you ever tried to break open a pinata during some kind of celebration?

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Pinata Poll #2

Have you ever purchased a pinata for one of your own family's celebrations?

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