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Not just for kids, the piñata became a symbol of faith

      I write today hoping that your Christmas and New Year celebrations were full of joy, surrounded by family and friends. During the festivities of the season I was asked at one of the Posadas to explain the meaning of the Piñata in our fiestas. Many of the adults at this Posada were fascinated with the explanation, so I thought I'd share it with all of you.

      Piñatas may have originated in China and brought back to Europe by Marco Polo. We will explain the Hispanic connection due to the length of this article. We will just say that when it passed to Europe in the 14th century, it was adapted to the celebrations of Lent. The first Sunday was designated "Piñata Sunday."  When the custom spread to Spain it included a clay undecorated container.  Sometime later it was decorated with tinsel, fringed paper and ribbons.

      Indigenous people in the Americas had a similar tradition. They celebrated (in Mexico) the birthday of the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli. Priests would place a clay pot on a pole in the temple at year's end. Colorful feathers decorated the pot filled with tiny treasures. When the piñata was broken with a stick or club, all the treasures would fall at the feet of the god's image as an offering. The missionary Franciscans at that time transformed all of this into a religious instruction.

      They covered the clay pot, which represents Satan. The traditional piñata has seven points, each with dangling streamers. The points represent the seven capital sins: greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath and lust. Candies and fruits inside the pot represent the temptations of wealth and earthly pleasures.

      The blindfolded person represents the force of defying evil, faith, which must be blind. Sometimes the person would be spun around thirty three times in memory of the life of Christ. The piñata served as a symbol of hope. The stick that breaks the piñata symbolizes virtue; only good can overcome evil. Once the piñata is broken and the candies and fruits rain down, the reward of keeping the faith has been accomplished. The actual piñata stands for charity. When it is broken everyone can share in the divine blessings and gifts.

      All are justified through faith is the moral of the piñata.

      Adeline Torres is director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry. This column ran in Spanish in the Northwest Indiana Catholic edition dated Jan. 25, 2015.

Torres_English_Jan25

 

Not just for kids, the piñata became a symbol of faith

 

      I write today hoping that your Christmas and New Year celebrations were full of joy, surrounded by family and friends. During the festivities of the season I was asked at one of the Posadas to explain the meaning of the Piñata in our fiestas. Many of the adults at this Posada were fascinated with the explanation, so I thought I'd share it with all of you.

      Piñatas may have originated in China and brought back to Europe by Marco Polo. We will explain the Hispanic connection due to the length of this article. We will just say that when it passed to Europe in the 14th century, it was adapted to the celebrations of Lent. The first Sunday was designated "Piñata Sunday."  When the custom spread to Spain it included a clay undecorated container.  Sometime later it was decorated with tinsel, fringed paper and ribbons.

      Indigenous people in the Americas had a similar tradition. They celebrated (in Mexico) the birthday of the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli. Priests would place a clay pot on a pole in the temple at year's end. Colorful feathers decorated the pot filled with tiny treasures. When the piñata was broken with a stick or club, all the treasures would fall at the feet of the god's image as an offering. The missionary Franciscans at that time transformed all of this into a religious instruction.

      They covered the clay pot, which represents Satan. The traditional piñata has seven points, each with dangling streamers. The points represent the seven capital sins: greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath and lust. Candies and fruits inside the pot represent the temptations of wealth and earthly pleasures.

      The blindfolded person represents the force of defying evil, faith, which must be blind. Sometimes the person would be spun around thirty three times in memory of the life of Christ. The piñata served as a symbol of hope. The stick that breaks the piñata symbolizes virtue; only good can overcome evil. Once the piñata is broken and the candies and fruits rain down, the reward of keeping the faith has been accomplished. The actual piñata stands for charity. When it is broken everyone can share in the divine blessings and gifts.

      All are justified through faith is the moral of the piñata.

      Adeline Torres is director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry. This column ran in Spanish in the Northwest Indiana Catholic edition dated Jan. 25, 2015.

 

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