UAT students congregated in the quad to show off their batting skills and release pent up energy with the frustration piñata. Students went up to bat with a sole goal in mind — kill for the candy. Today, candy is the most popular reward for breaking the piñata, but it hasn’t always been the stuffing of choice.
Piñatas are fondly thought of as a fun activity for children’s birthday parties, but did you know the modern piñata has a long, rich history that spans the globe? Traditionally, piñatas were made with a clay pot base, however, they’ve been mostly replaced by the kid-friendly cardboard and paper mâché version that’s decorated with crepe paper. Today’s piñatas come in all shapes and sizes, including fan-favorite characters and cartoons, like BB-8 and Pikachu.
While the piñata is most strongly associated with Mexico, there is some debate over its origin being Chinese rather than Spanish. The Chinese piñata was typically in the shape of an ox or cow for the New Year celebration, decorated with colors and symbols meant to manifest a favorable climate and filled with five different seeds for the coming growing season. Once the piñata was broken, the remains were burned and the ashes were kept for good luck.
This tradition arrived in Europe in the 14th century where it became associated with the Christian celebration of Lent. In Spain, the first Sunday of Lent became known as "Piñata Sunday," which included the Dance of the Piñata celebration.
The European piñata tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century; however, Mesoamerica already participated in a similar tradition. The Mayan tradition is reminiscent of the modern piñata, and included blindfolding the participant hitting the piñata, while the Aztec tradition commemorated the birthday of Huitzilopochtli. According to local records, the piñata was first used for the purposes of evangelism in 1586 — the Augustinian monks modified European piñatas and created the Las Posadas tradition to co-opt the celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli in mid-December.
Over the years, the religious significance has mostly diminished, but the ceremony remains intact. In Mexico, piñatas are most popular during Las Posadas with birthday parties in close second.
The next time you need to get out your frustrations, join your friends in the quad and start whacking!
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