Breaking Down Walls: A Christmas tradition in Mexico

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. PhotoS by Molly Ferrill

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

  • In Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. Photo by Molly Ferrill—

Published: 12/23/2020 3:38:05 PM

Well, this has been quite the year, and many of us are just about ready for it to come to a close so we can hurry up and start a fresh new one. Some of us may even have some built up tension we’d like to get rid of this holiday season. Luckily, in Mexico they have a great remedy for that: the piñata. 

If you’re like me, you might immediately associate piñatas with children’s birthday parties, but in fact, in Mexico the piñata is most commonly used during Christmas celebrations. There is some debate as to the earliest origins of the piñata, but they are believed to have originated in China, where paper animals were filled with seeds and broken to usher in new seasons. The tradition was later adopted and modified in Europe, and was finally brought to Mexico by Spanish missionaries. There, the Spanish interpretation of the piñata was combined with the indigenous Mayan practice of breaking hanging pots blindfolded. This fusion resulted in the current Mexican tradition of the piñata, which carries on as a yearly ritual during “posadas,” or religious parties, held in the days leading up to Christmas. 

The traditional Mexican piñata has seven points representing the seven deadly sins: envy, sloth, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath, and pride. The stick used to break the piñata is said to represent love and virtue, and the candy or fruit inside the piñata represents the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning. During Mexican pre-Christmas posadas, people sing and act out “villancicos,” or songs that tell the story of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Afterwards they all take turns hitting the piñata blindfolded, while singing silly songs and teasing each other in a lighthearted celebration that to me is a wonderful metaphor for the way I’ve seen people in Mexico using humor and laughter to shake off the heaviness of difficult times. Though large posadas can’t take place this year, many people are still carrying on the tradition at home.

Like so many traditions, that of the piñata in Mexico has morphed over time, and while traditional seven pointed piñatas are still broken during pre-Christmas posada parties, piñatas also come in a variety of amusing shapes, from donkeys to Christmas trees to beer bottles to the Grinch, to the newest addition, the coronavirus (which of course sold out very quickly this December). I think we could all use an excuse to laugh and blow off a little steam this year; what better way than to try out a fun Mexican tradition while bashing something – perhaps an oversized papier-mâché coronavirus – to bits before the year ends?

Molly Ferrill is a documentary photographer from Temple now based in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.


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