Piñatas - Where did they come from, and how can I make one?

Have any of you ever had a piñata at your birthday party, or been to a party where there was one? I have, and boy do I have memories! If you think about it, this is not the safest game to play at a party, let alone a children's party. That never stopped us, or anyone else I know. I can't even count the number of times when I witnessed kids and adults get hit by a wild, blinded, dizzy swinger, or when the stick (a broom stick) would split in half and fly out into the crowds of unsuspecting kids waiting for their candy only to get a bump on the head or an eye poked out (jk, but I'm sure it's happened!). As dangerous as this can be, if done properly, it can be very fun, even for adults. Seriously.

While looking up info on piñatas and their origins, I came across this article on Wikipedia.com:

There are many hypotheses regarding the origins of piñatas and few reliable sources to confirm or dismiss them. Some believe that piñatas came from Italy after Marco Polo discovered them in China and brought them to Italy on one of his excursions. Others believe that piñatas can be traced to Africa well before it appeared in China. Most people believe that the pinata originated in Spain . However, there is no evidence that the olla or piñata existed in Spain prior to the conquest of Mexico, nor did the piñata appear anywhere else in Spain's Latin America colonies until some time later.

In the Mexican Catholic celebration of Christmas, the piñata is traditionally shaped like a seven-pointed star which represents the devil and the seven deadly sins, while the contents are the goods or blessings he is withholding. Striking the devil with faith, symbolized by being blindfolded, releases the blessings.

Who knew?!?! I would have never guessed any of the facts mentioned above regarding the origin and symbolism behind

Check out this "recipe" by Martha Stewart on how to make a homemade piñata:

Tools and Materials
14-inch balloon
Cloth tape
Newspaper, cut into 1-by-6-inch strips
Wheat-paste powder
Strong white paper (20-pound copy paper works well)
Spray mount
Craft glue
Tissue paper in several colors
Rotary cutter (optional)
Self-healing mat (optional)
Utility knife
Large needle or piece of wire
Tissue-paper streamers
Strong cord
Candy, treats, and small prizes, for stuffing

Piñata How-To
1. Inflate the balloon, and coax it into a round shape by wrapping it with cloth tape. Set it aside.

2. Make paste: In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup wheat-paste powder with 4 1/2 cups water. Dip newspaper strips one at a time into the paste, and place them on the balloon, overlapping the strips slightly, until the balloon is completely covered. Let dry overnight. Repeat this process twice more for a total of three layers.

3. Our pinata design calls for six cones; to make them, cut six sheets of strong white paper into 7-inch squares. In a well-ventilated area, spray-mount different colors of tissue paper onto the squares. Place the point of a compass at the corner of one of the squares, and mark a 6 1/2-inch arc. Trim the paper around the edge of the arc. At 1/2-inch intervals, cut 1/2-inch-deep notches into the rounded edge. Roll the paper into a cone, and glue or tape the straight edges together where they meet. Cut 1/2 inch off the tip of the cone to create an opening for streamers. Fold the notches outward, and using craft glue, adhere the cone to the pinata. Repeat with the remaining cones, gluing the first two cones at opposite ends and spacing the remaining cones evenly around the sphere's center perimeter.

4. For the fringe decoration, begin by cutting tissue paper into narrow strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. A rotary cutter and a self-healing mat will enable you to cut through several layers of tissue at one time. Fold each strip lengthwise, creating a 1 1/2-inch strip, and cut the strip down the center from the open side, up to within 1/2 inch of the folded edge. Each strip should yield four "fringes." Starting at the bottom of the pinata, glue the strips, fringed edge up, in a tight circle. Glue a second row above the first one (the circle will be slightly larger), tucking the glued portions of the second row behind the fringe of the first. Work your way up the pinata, gluing rows of fringe in circles of increasing size. Glue a couple of rounds of tissue paper over the fringe at the top and bottom of the pinata.

5. To complete the piñata, use a utility knife to cut a small trap door near the top. Make two vertical cuts 3 inches apart, and connect them with one horizontal cut at the top to create a flap; fold the flap back. Using a piece of wire or large needle with a length of strong cord attached, punch two holes at the top of the pinata, and pull the cord through the holes. Knot the cord above the pinata, leaving enough to use for hanging.

6. For a final touch, twist 10 streamers together for each cone; apply a dab of craft glue to the twisted end, and tuck it into the small hole at the end of the cone. Repeat this for each of the cones. Fill the pinata with a selection of candy, treats, or prizes; push the flap back into place, and hang your pinata.

TIP: If you don't have wheat powder (who has wheat powder?), you can substitute flour or Elmer's Glue, just add water to make a paste.

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