Piñatas: a traditional hit for Christmas in Mexico

The colorful piñatas are made from clay pots or cardboard covered with paper cones stuck on with glue. Once the cones are dry, they are covered in colorful paper maché.

Many of the piñatas used at community celebrations known as "posadas" are made at piñata workshops located around Mexico City.

Piñatas are broken during Mexican posadas, small get-togethers to commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for shelter on Christmas Eve before the birth of Jesus Christ. The smashing of the piñata at these festivities is highly symbolic; the breaking symbolizes man's struggle to fight temptation and his wish to eliminate evil.

The origin of the piñata is unclear. Some say that it was found by Marco Polo on his travels to China and brought to Europe. It was then introduced to Mexico during the Spanish Conquest.

Others say that the tradition stems back to Aztec times, where a clay pot was painted with the face Tlaloc, the God of Water. The pot was filled with water and broken to symbolize a thunderstorm and the downpour of rain.Regardless of its origin, the piñata eventually took on religious symbolism.

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