History of the Piñata

Learnex, English Forever ¡Aprende Inglés para Siempre!

Piñatas may have originated in China. Marco Polo discovered the Chinese fashioning figures of cows, oxen or buffaloes, covered with colored paper and adorned with harnesses and trappings. Special colors traditionally greeted the New Year.

When this custom passed into Europe in the 14th century, it adapted to the celebrations of Lent. The first Sunday became ‘Piñata Sunday’.

At the beginning of the 16th century the Spanish missionaries to North America used the piñata to attract converts to their ceremonies. However indigenous peoples already had a similar tradition. To celebrate the birthday of the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli, priests placed a clay pot on a pole in the temple at year’s end. Colorful feathers adorned the richly decorated pot, filled with tiny treasures.

The decorated clay pot also called a cantero represents Satan who often wears an attractive mask to attract humanity. The most traditional style piñata looks a bit like Sputnik, with seven points, each with streamers. These cones represent the seven deadly sins, pecados –greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath and lust.

Thus, the piñata reflected three theological virtues in the catequismo (religious instruction or catechism).



  • Oxen: A domesticated bovine animal kept for milk or meat; a cow or bull.
  • Harnesses: A set of straps and fittings by which a horse or other draught animal is fastened to a cart, plough, etc. and is controlled by its driver.
  • Trappings: The outward signs, features, or objects associated with a particular situation, role, or job.
  • Pot: Any of various containers made for a particular purpose, especially one used for storage.
  • Streamers: A long, narrow strip of material used as a decoration or symbol.


  • How would you explain to someone in another country the way to do one?

Welcome to this activity created by Learning Advisor Mr. Noé Cuervo from Narvarte. Take note of all the pink words, read the text, watch the video and answer the question in the comment section below.

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada.