Christmas in Mexico: Piñatas
As Christmas draws near, markets begin to fill up with colorful Christmas goods such as children’s toys and figurines for Nativity scenes. Merchants also display a wide variety of piñatas, a special kind of Mexican toy popular at celebrations involving children. The traditional way of making a piñata calls for filling a clay pot with treats, such as candy nuts, fruit, and small toys. Artisans then cover the pot with a combination of papier mâché, colorful tissue or crepe paper, paint, tinsel, and sequins. Nowadays, many artisans leave out the pot and form the piñata out of paiper mâché alone, shaping it into any form that strikes their fancy. Children may choose from a nearly infinite variety of shapes, including animals, cartoon characters, flowers, vegetables, suns, moons, stars, comets, electrical appliances, and vehicles of all kinds. During the Christmas season, homes, plazas, shops, schools, churches, and other institutions display piñatas as seasonal decorations.
What’s more, children play games with piñatas at holiday season parties, such as those that follow Las Posadas. The piñata hangs from a rope which is suspended over a pulley in the ceiling. Each child is blindfolded in turn and given a chance to break open the piñata with a big stick. An adult spins the blindfolded child around several times and then takes hold of the rope. While the rest of the children call out instructions to the blindfolded youngster, an adult raises or lowers the piñata to keep it away from the swinging stick.
Eventually, a child succeeds in striking the piñata, breaking it open and spilling all of its treats onto the floor. The children rush forward to gather up the sweets and toys.