There’s no way to discuss Piñata day, without discussing the history of the piñata. While the tradition of the piñata is typically thought of as originating in Mexico, the real history of this most entertaining toy and candy delivery system is actually must older. Sometime in the 14th century (that’s before the discovery of the New World by Europeans, in case you’re history deficient) an idea became popular. That idea was filling a container with prizes and smacking the heck out of it until it showered down its delicious and/or fun entrails. Sorry, was that too graphic?
The name piñata is actually a variation of the Italian pignatta, and it was brought to Mesoamerica by the Spanish conquistadors. When they arrived in Mexico, they actually underwent an interesting transformation, becoming deeply entrenched with religious significance. The traditional piñata (rather than those used for parties and such) is actually a sphere with seven points issuing from it, one for each of the seven deadly sins. The attack of the piñata is actually meant to demonstrate the battle of the soul against temptation and evil, with the contents being the rewards of the ever after. Surprisingly deep for a papier-mâché ball of treats and prized, isn’t it?