pinata history Marco Polo

The History of the Pinata




cone heritage assignment
staple originate celebrations
figure believe (2) hemisphere
derive discovery back in the day
notice explore build/built/built (2)
seed wire (2) put/put/put
ashes Hispanic bring/brought/brought
gain indigenous conquistador
burn influence therapeutic
tissue symbol come around
glue hit/hit/hit traditionally
sin represent blindfolded
stick overcome appearance
virtue character begin/began/begun






And tonight’s Hispanic Heritage Month special assignment, the pinata is a staple in many Hispanic celebrations.

But it’s believed the pinata originates from the Eastern Hemisphere. Tonight we explore how it got to the Hispanic culture.

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Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “It’s believed that the pinata actually derived from Marco Polo.”

A discovery made through travel.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “Marco Polo way back in the days when he was traveling in Asia, he noticed the Chinese people who were actually building figures of animals.”

It’s now a beloved tradition by children. Spanish teacher Adan Martinez says things have changed since the Marco Polo days though.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “They would put seeds in the figures.”

Martinez says the Chinese would break the pinata and then they’d burn it.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “And then the people would take the remains and they would burn the ashes you know to start a new year.”

Spanish teachers believe Marco Polo took the pinata with him to Italy.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “In Italy they still call it a pignata; a pignata, a pinata.”

And it was brought to the Americas by the conquistadors.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “And that was a way for them to actually try to gain the people from the indigenous groups into the church by the use of the pinata.”

With a newspaper cone and a wire, Elizabeth Ortiz gives life to the modern pinata.

She says it’s a job she enjoys — and it’s even therapeutic for her. She knows about the Chinese influence on the pinata.

Elizabeth Ortiz, Pinata Artist: “She says the tissue paper is called “Chinese paper” in Spanish. She says the pinata is glued together by a mixture of flour with water.

Her business Novedes Ortiz recently opened up. Here you’ll find a style of pinata with roots tracing back to the conquistadors and religion.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “In the cones in the pinata used to have seven cones; that represented a symbol of the Seven Sins.”

A star pinata which people traditionally had blindfolded.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “People would come around and they would hit the pinata with a stick. The stick was actually like a symbol of virtue. This is what was overcoming sin.”

Now many children see the pinata has a special appearance by their favorite character on their birthday, a tradition that began thanks to one explorer.

Adan Martinez, Socorro High School Spanish Teacher: “Even though we have that background, we don’t really get to learn about it.”

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1/2 (One-half). The pinata is believed to have originated entirely in Mexico. True or false?

1/3 (One-third). Did the Chinese put candy and sweets in animal figures? Why and when did they break their figures?

1/4 (One-fourth). Chinese immigrants brought the tradition of the pinata to Mexico. Is this right or wrong?

1/5 (One-fifth). Do only people in China and Mexico break figures?

1/8 (One-eighth). (One-sixth). Are all pinatas manufactured in factories?

1/10 (One-tenth). Is making pinatas hard, grueling, tedious work for Elizabeth Ortiz? Does she consider it a drudgery?

1/100 (One-one-hundredth). What do the cones of a pinata represent? What does the stick symbolize?

2/3 (Two-thirds). What happens during celebrations with pinatas?

2/5 (Two-fifths). Breaking open a pinata is a completely religious ceremony. Is this correct or incorrect?
3/4 (Three-fourths). I have seen pinatas in stores and celebrations in my city. Yes or no?

3/5 (Three-fifths). Do you have a similar custom? How do children celebrate birthdays and other parties and festivals?

3/8 (Three-eighths). Could pinatas become popular in your country?

4/5 (Four-fifths). Are there festival or decorative crafts in your city?

5/6 (Five-sixths). What sort of gifts or presents would you like in a pinata?

9/10 (Nine-tenths). What might happen in the future?

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