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Pinata: How to Choose the Right One for Your Event

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Have you ever been to a party where there was a pinata? If you have, you probably know how much fun it is to hit a colorful figure with a stick until it breaks open and spills out candy and other treats. If you haven't, you might be wondering what a pinata is and how to make one. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about pinata: what it is, where it came from, how to make it, and how to play with it.

What is a pinata?

A pinata is a container, often made of paper mache, pottery, or cloth, that is decorated with bright colors and shapes, and filled with candy, fruit, toys, or other goodies. It is usually hung from a rope or a tree branch, and people take turns hitting it with a stick or a bat until it breaks open and releases its contents. Pinatas are commonly associated with Mexico, but they have a long and interesting history that spans different cultures and continents.


The origin and history of pinata

There is some debate about the origin of pinata, but it seems that it was not originally from Spain or Mexico. Some sources suggest that it came from China, where people made figures of animals covered with paper and ribbons, filled them with seeds, and hit them with sticks during the New Year celebrations. The seeds represented good luck and prosperity for the coming year. Marco Polo brought this tradition to Europe in the 13th century, where it was adapted by the Italians as "pignatta", meaning "fragile pot".

Other sources claim that pinata came from Africa, where people made clay pots decorated with shells and feathers, filled them with precious stones or coins, and broke them as offerings to their gods. The African slaves brought this tradition to Spain during the Moorish invasion in the 8th century.

In any case, the Spanish adopted the pinata as part of their religious celebrations during Lent. They used a clay pot with seven spikes, representing the seven deadly sins, and filled it with fruits and nuts. They called it "la olla de la cuaresma", meaning "the pot of Lent". They hit it with sticks while wearing blindfolds, symbolizing faith and overcoming temptation.

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The pinata was brought to Mexico by the Spanish missionaries in the 16th century, where it was used to convert the native people to Christianity. They replaced the clay pot with a paper mache figure of a star with seven points, representing the Star of Bethlehem and the seven virtues. They filled it with candy and coins, and hung it from a pole. They called it "la estrella de la navidad", meaning "the star of Christmas". They hit it during the posadas, the nine days of celebration before Christmas, while singing a traditional song.

The meaning and symbolism of pinata

The pinata has a rich and complex meaning and symbolism, depending on the culture and context where it is used. Some of the common elements and interpretations are:

  • The pinata represents the world, with its attractive and tempting appearance, but also its fragility and emptiness.

  • The candy and treats inside the pinata represent the rewards and blessings that await those who overcome the challenges and difficulties of life.

  • The stick or bat represents the will and strength to face the obstacles and temptations that come along the way.

  • The blindfold represents faith and trust in God or a higher power, as well as humility and detachment from worldly things.

  • The rope or pole represents the connection between heaven and earth, or between God and humans.

  • The song or chant represents prayer and praise, as well as joy and celebration.

The types and shapes of pinata

Today, pinatas are not only used for religious purposes, but also for secular celebrations, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Halloween, etc. They come in different types and shapes, depending on the occasion and preference of the host. Some of the common types and shapes are:


TraditionalStarA paper mache figure of a star with seven points, usually decorated with tissue paper in bright colors. It is the most common type of pinata in Mexico.

CartoonCharacterA paper mache or cardboard figure of a popular cartoon character, such as Mickey Mouse, SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, etc. It is often used for children's parties.

AnimalAnimalA paper mache or cardboard figure of an animal, such as a donkey, a horse, a dog, a cat, etc. It can be realistic or stylized.

ObjectObjectA paper mache or cardboard figure of an object, such as a car, a plane, a guitar, a cake, etc. It can be related to the theme or interest of the party.

Pull-stringAnyA pinata that has strings attached to its bottom or sides. Instead of hitting it with a stick or bat, people pull one or more strings until one opens a flap that releases the candy and treats inside. It is safer and easier for young children or indoor parties.

How to make a pinata?

If you want to make your own pinata, you will need some materials and tools, and follow some steps. Making a pinata can be a fun and creative activity, and you can customize it according to your preference and taste. Here are the basic things you need and the steps to follow:

The materials and tools you need

To make a pinata, you will need the following materials and tools:

  • A balloon or a cardboard box, depending on the shape of your pinata.

  • Newspaper or tissue paper, cut into strips.

  • Flour and water, mixed into a paste.

  • A pair of scissors or a knife.

  • A string or a wire.

  • Candy, fruit, toys, or other goodies to fill your pinata.

  • Tissue paper, crepe paper, paint, stickers, or other embellishments to decorate your pinata.

The steps to follow

Step 1: Choose a shape for your pinata

The first step is to decide what shape you want your pinata to be. You can choose from the common types and shapes mentioned above, or you can be more creative and original. For example, you can make a pinata of your favorite animal, character, object, or anything else you like. You can also make a pinata that matches the theme or occasion of your party. For example, you can make a pinata of a pumpkin for Halloween, a heart for Valentine's Day, a cake for a birthday, etc.

Step 2: Inflate your balloon or make your cardboard form

The next step is to prepare the base of your pinata. If you are making a round or oval shape, you can use a balloon. Inflate the balloon to the size you want your pinata to be, and tie it with a string or a wire. If you are making a different shape, you can use a cardboard box. Cut out the shape you want from the cardboard, and tape or glue it together. You can also use other cardboard pieces to make details or features for your pinata.

Step 3: Apply the paper mache paste and strips

The third step is to cover your balloon or cardboard form with paper mache. Paper mache is a technique that uses paper strips and paste to create a hard and durable surface. To make the paste, mix some flour and water in a bowl until it has a smooth and thick consistency. You can also add some salt or glue to make it stronger. To apply the paper mache, dip the paper strips in the paste, and wrap them around your balloon or cardboard form. Make sure to cover the entire surface with at least three layers of paper mache. Leave some space for an opening where you will fill your pinata with goodies later. Let the paper mache dry completely before moving on to the next step. Step 4: Cut an opening and fill your pinata with goodi

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