The Chinese Origins Behind the Mexican Piñata

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Traditionally made of a clay pot filled with fruit, candy or small toys, suspended piñatas are the central component to any Mexican birthday celebration. While most people think of them as fun activities, piñatas go beyond game playing. They have a long, rich, and often religious, history.

Asian Origin

Piñatas may have originated in China, being brought to Italy by Marco Polo when he travelled there in the 13th century. Figures of animals such as cows, oxen or buffaloes were covered with colored paper and adorned with ribbons for the new year. The figures were knocked with hard sticks and seeds spilled out, and subsequently the remains were burned and the ashes were gathered for good luck throughout the year. In the 14th century, the custom was imported first to Italy, and then to Spain, and adapted for the celebration of lent. The Italian word pignatta, which translates into clay pot, is the most probable etymology of the word as the original piñatas were fashioned in clay.



  • Clay: A natural earthy material that is stiff and sticky when wet, used for making bricks, pottery, etc.
  • Capital Vices The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins.
  • Oxen: A large, bulky animal belonging to the same family as domestic cows, water buffaloes, and yaks.
  • Blindfolded: To prevent (a person’s) sight by covering the eyes with a cloth.


 Write down the instructions to create a piñata.


  • What do you think about the origin of Mexican piñatas?

Welcome to this activity created by Junior Advisor Ms. Anlluli Morales from Reforma Branch. Take note of all the pink words, read the text, watch the video and answer the question in the comment section below.

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