The first piñata I ever made was a pterodactyl for my housewarming party. It looked like Pterri from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Creating art and destroying it ceremoniously was surprisingly satisfying. As I started making piñatas for friends, it became a way of expressing their personalities and stories. Piñatas are fun to make, but I especially love watching the joy of breaking them!
Usually associated with Mexico, piñatas are believed to have originated in China. The Chinese piñata was in the shape of an ox or cow to celebrate the New Year, decorated and filled with seeds to bless the upcoming growing season. There were similar early traditions in Aztec and Mayan history, influencing many European and Asian cultures. The word piñata comes from the Italian word “pignatta” which means “pinecone”, and later “earthenware cooking pot”. Piñatas were filled with fruit and other treats, sometimes offered to gods on their birthdays.
The popular Mexican tradition has its roots in Catholicism, with the traditional seven-pointed star representing the seven deadly sins. The destruction of the piñata symbolized overcoming temptation, showered in rewards.
Piñatas today retain their history in marking one’s transition in life, from the end of an era to a new life journey. They can commemorate
a union, new life, or an accomplishment.