Need Help Again! Article About "Pinatas" they mean today

by smellsgood 19 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • smellsgood

    Do you guys know which one I'm thinking of? The one that flies in the face of all their other reasoning of banishing other celebrations/practices?

    I'm meeting with a JW in the next week, so sorry for all the requests, but it's most helpful :)

  • betterdaze

    There were earlier pinata articles but this should be the most recent:

    Good luck!


  • LtCmd.Lore

    There are two of them. One from 1971 and one from 2003.


    g03 9/22pp.22-24 The Piñata—An Ancient Tradition ***

    The Piñata—An Ancient Tradition


    THE neighborhood children are having a fiesta. We can hear their excited voices crying out: "Dale!Dale!Dale!" (Hit it! Hit it! Hit it!) We peer over into the patio and observe a gaily decorated papier-mâché burro suspended between two trees. A blindfolded child is striking out at the burro with a stick, attempting to break it. The guests are shouting encouragement. At last, the burro bursts open, and candy, fruit, and toys spill out. Amid much laughter, all scramble to pick up the treats. It looks like fun. We are told that the burro is called a piñata and that breaking a piñata at fiestas is a tradition here in Mexico and some other Latin-American countries.

    We wonder why the piñata is so popular. What is its origin? Does breaking the piñata have any special significance? We decided to investigate.


    Origin of the Piñata

    A widespread opinion is that the Chinese may have been the first to use something like a piñata as part of their New Year’s celebration, which also marked the beginning of spring. They made figures of cows, oxen, and buffalo, covering them with colored paper and filling them with five kinds of seeds. Colored sticks were used to break the figures open. The decorative paper that covered the figures was burned and the ashes gathered and kept for good luck during the coming year.

    It is thought that in the 13th century, Venetian traveler Marco Polo took the "piñata" back with him from China to Italy. There, it acquired its present name from the Italian word pignatta, or fragile pot, and came to be filled with trinkets, jewelry, or candy instead of seeds. The tradition then spread to Spain. Breaking the piñata became a custom on the first Sunday of Lent. It seems that at the beginning of the 16th century, Spanish missionaries brought the piñata to Mexico.

    However, the missionaries may have been surprised (as we were) to find that the native people of Mexico already had a similar tradition. The Aztecs celebrated the birthday of Huitzilopochtli, their god of the sun and war, by placing a clay pot on a pole in his temple at the end of the year. The pot was adorned with colorful feathers and filled with tiny treasures. It was then broken with a stick, and the treasures that spilled out became an offering to the god’s image. The Maya also played a game in which blindfolded participants hit a clay pot suspended by a string.

    As part of their strategy to evangelize the Indians, the Spanish missionaries ingeniously made use of the piñata to symbolize, among other things, the Christian’s struggle to conquer the Devil and sin. The traditional piñata was a clay pot covered with colored paper and given a star shape with seven tasseled points. These points were said to represent the seven deadly sins: greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath, and lust. Striking the piñata while blindfolded represented blind faith and willpower overcoming temptation or evil. The treats inside the piñata were the reward.


    Piñata Today

    Later, the piñata became part of the festivities of the posadas during the Christmas season and continues as such to this day. (A star-shaped piñata is used to represent the star that guided the astrologers to Bethlehem.) Breaking the piñata is also considered indispensable at birthday parties. Indeed, piñatas have become so traditionally Mexican that Mexico even exports them to other countries.

    We found that for many people in Mexico, the piñata has lost its religious significance and is considered by most to be just harmless fun. In fact, piñatas are used in Mexico on many festive occasions, not just for the posadas or for birthdays. And piñatas can be purchased in many forms other than the traditional star shape. They are sometimes made to resemble animals, flowers, clowns.

    When considering whether to include a piñata at a social gathering, Christians should be sensitive to the consciences of others. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33) A main concern is, not what the practice meant hundreds of years ago, but how it is viewed today in your area. Understandably, opinions may vary from one place to another. Hence, it is wise to avoid turning such matters into big issues. The Bible says: "Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person."—1 Corinthians 10:24.


    In some religions, such as Catholicism, Lent is the 40-day period of penance that culminates in Holy Week celebrations at Easter time.

    In Mexico the posadas is a nine-day celebration prior to Christmas, enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for posada, or lodging. A piñata is broken as the culmination of the festivities on each of the nine nights.


    on page 23]

    When considering whether to include a piñata at a social gathering, be sensitive to the consciences of others


    on page 23]

    Piñatas come in all kinds of shapes and sizes

    And here's the 1971 article:





    By "Awake!" correspondent in Mexico

    "HIT it, hit it, hit it! To the right! Lower! Now higher!"

    What’s happening? Why so much shouting by children and adults? Why so much excitement?

    As we approach the group, we see two men from two adjacent roofs holding a cord from which an object that looks like a three-pointed star is suspended. "What is that?" we ask.

    "It’s a piñata," the children shout.

    A number of blindfolded children have taken turns in trying to break the piñata with a stick. But the men have prevented it by pulling the cord to move the piñata away. Finally, a blindfolded boy strikes the piñata a tremendous blow. It breaks open, and its contents spill onto the floor. There are all kinds of fruit, pieces of sugarcane, oranges, peanuts, tejocotes (a sloe-like fruit), and so forth.

    The children scramble to see how much each one can pick up. After a few minutes nothing is left on the floor except broken pottery and scraps of crepe paper. The cones, which had given the piñata the appearance of a three-pointed star, are taken by the children as trophies.

    Our curiosity is aroused. We want to know more about the piñata. What is its origin? Why is it used in Mexico and other Latin-American countries? Is there any significance to breaking it?



    The origin of piñatas is not definitely known. But it is believed that the famous Venetian traveler Marco Polo brought them from the Orient to his native city in Italy. Later, in Spain, their use became a part of religious celebrations. Following the Spanish conquest in the western hemisphere they were introduced in Mexico. The materials used to make piñatas are a clay pot, crepe paper, a little glue and cardboard to give form to the figure.

    Catholic teachers employed piñatas in giving the Indian natives religious instruction. They were used, for instance, in connection with Lent, which is observed from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. Even today they are used in some places. On the day before Easter a piñata figure of Judas Iscariot is broken, scattering candies that children scamper to pick up.


    also came to be used in connection with Christmas. A modern writer notes: "Indians were very fond of theatrical representations in the development of rituals. The friars started to put on theatrical representations in connection with the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ." Breaking the piñata came to be the final part of such a theatrical representation.

    It was around the year 1587 C.E. that an Augustinian friar by the name of Diego de Doria received authorization from the Pope to hold Masses during nine days before Christmas. The tradition was taught to the natives that before the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary searched for nine days to find lodging. The Bible, however, does not say this. It is just a man-made tradition.

    The Posada was the celebration introduced to teach this tradition. It enacted the supposed nine-day search of Mary and Joseph. A young man and young woman were chosen to represent Joseph and Mary. It became the custom to form a group that would sing and pray as they went around pretending to look for lodging. People would gather in church for this theatrical representation.

    Later, the celebration was also carried on in the homes of the people, who organized their own Posada. With the passing of time, clay, plaster of Paris and wooden figures of Joseph and Mary were substituted for human representations of them. It became the custom for two children to lead the procession carrying the figures of Joseph and Mary.

    Families in Mexico look forward to the Posada on each of the nine nights before Christmas day. Children leading the procession go from room to room, being refused admittance until they come to the room where a nacimiento or nativity scene has been constructed with a miniature well-adorned stable. Here they are admitted and they place the figures of Joseph and Mary in the stable. It is not until the last night of the Posada that a figure representing the babe Jesus is placed there.

    The celebration comes to its end with the breaking of the piñata. These piñatas may have many different forms—ships, clowns, devils, three-pointed stars, rabbits, radishes, watermelons, and so forth. Nowadays the host may invite everyone into his courtyard. There blindfolded persons take turns in trying to strike the piñata, which may be suspended by a cord from the porch roof or a branch of a tree.

    Catholic teachers have placed great significance on the use of the piñata in this religious celebration. They have taught that the piñata represents the Devil or a bad spirit. The fact that the person who tries to break the piñata has his eyes covered indicates that he should have blind faith that will overcome the Devil. The articles that are put in the piñata represent the temptations that man has during his life. And breaking the piñata means that he has gained eternal life.



    Nowadays the Posada in Mexico features disorder, drunkenness and criminal activity. The celebrations are used as an excuse for wild and immoral living. Persons frequently are killed, and others are robbed and injured. Police are kept extra busy during these celebrations.

    One is reminded by the Posada of the early mid-December Roman festival of the Saturnalia. The fact is that encyclopedias say that this pagan festival provided the model for many merrymaking customs of Christmas, of which Posada and the use of the piñata are closely linked.

    Today, however, many give little thought to the religious aspects of Posada and the breaking of the piñata. All some businessmen know about it is that selling piñatas is profitable. They may sell for as much as sixteen dollars or so apiece, and during Posada celebrations their cost goes up. Piñatas today are also used extensively for entertainment at social occasions, such as children’s parties and birthday celebrations.

    But even though the use of the piñata is quite popular in some places, there are those who have serious misgivings about the false religious practices connected with it.

    Lore - Power corrupts; And absolute power corrupts absolutely... Perhaps that explains God.

  • smellsgood

    Yes! that's the one! Thank you guys!!!!!

    <<<<A main concern is, not what the practice meant hundreds of years ago, but how it is viewed today in your area.>>>>

    Wonder if this writer got sacked.

  • smellsgood

    Any chance I could get a scan? :)

  • LtCmd.Lore
    Any chance I could get a scan? :)

    I got that off the WT library CD, so I'm not sure I have it, but I'll go check. be back soon.

  • LtCmd.Lore

    Nope sorry, but I'll try to remember to check the back-issue bin at the meeting tomorrow.

  • annalice

    A main concern is, not what the practice meant hundreds of years ago, but how it is viewed today in your area. Understandably, opinions may vary from one place to another. Hence, it is wise to avoid turning such matters into big issues.

    Ok does any one see the the importance of this statement from the society? So can we not say the same for Christmas? ,Halloween , Easter, Birthdays?? , Etc.? In my family Christmas has never really been about Jesus and his birth , it has always just been a time for all the family to get together and sit in front of a decorated tree and exchange gifts and eat WAYYY to much food. Halloween is just for getting as much candy as possible so we can spend all of our money at the dentist. Easter is all about the candy and the egg hunt. Oh yeah and more overstuffing of the food. LOL. I could go on but I am now hungry thinking about all the holiday food and candy coming up in the next several months.

  • Honesty
    When considering whether to include a piñata at a social gathering, Christians should be sensitive to the consciences of others. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33) A main concern is, not what the practice meant hundreds of years ago, but how it is viewed today in your area. Understandably, opinions may vary from one place to another. Hence, it is wise to avoid turning such matters into big issues.

    Christmas, Easter...






  • Madame Quixote
    Madame Quixote


    That's what it means in my area.

    Recently, I gave a co-worker a birthday card with a picture of a donkey-shaped pinata, lying on the psychiatrist's couch.

    The pinata asks his psychiatrist,"Where do I start?"

    I think that is one of the funniest birthday cards I've seen.

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