History of the Pinata

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The piñata is a bright container generally suspended on a rope from a tree branch or ceiling that is stuffed with candy or toys. It is used during celebrations all over the world. Children are blindfolded, and with stick in hand they will try to break the piñata in order to collect the goodies trapped inside of it. It has been used for hundreds of years to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas, and Day of the Dead. Piñatas are traditionally made from easily breakable materials, like straw, paper mache, or even clay. Normally they are made in the shape of human or animal figures (often a star) but, in recent times, vehicles, cartoon characters, or corporate mascots have gained in popularity. In Mexico, the piñata is traditionally shaped like a seven-pointed star. It represents the devil and the seven deadly sins; hitting it with the stick makes him let go of the good things he has taken hold of. The piñata in Mexico is a symbol of hope and of new beginnings. The history of the piñata is a topic of heated debate among several groups. The long held traditional belief is that the piñata was started by Spanish colonials in Latin America. However, recent findings show that Marco Polo during his exploration of China discovered the Chinese fashioning figures of cows, oxen or buffaloes, covered with colored paper and adorned with harnesses and trappings. They would break open these shapes and burns the remains saving the ashes for good luck. When this custom passed into Europe in the 14th century, it adapted to the celebrations of Lent. The first Sunday became ‘Piñata Sunday’. The Italian word ‘pignatta’ means "fragile pot." When the custom spread to Spain, the first Sunday in Lent became a fiesta called the ‘Dance of the Piñata’. The Spanish used a clay container called la olla, the Spanish word for pot. At the beginning of the 16th century the Spanish missionaries to North America used the piñata to attract converts to their ceremonies. However...
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