At parties or celebrations, they are hung in the air and children are allowed to swing a stick or bat at them in order to break them open and release the surprises hidden inside. To make things even more fun, the children are often blindfolded when trying to strike the piñata.
Today, piñatas are commonly associated with the culture of Mexico. However, historians believe piñatas got their start in China. Over time, they made their way to Europe, where the Spanish took them to Mexico.
Experts believe the name “piñata" came from the Italian word pignatta, which means “fragile pot." This would make sense, since early piñatas were made from clay containers for carrying water.
Broken pieces of clay can be quite dangerous, especially to small children. Piñatas eventually came to be made of cardboard and papier-mâché. While piñatas can be made at home using balloons and papier-mâché, most piñatas today are mass-produced in factories and sold in party stores.
Traditional Mexican piñatas are filled with candies and fruits, such as guavas and oranges. Mexican immigrants to the United States brought their traditions involving piñatas with them, and they're now popular in the U.S., especially at birthday parties and Cinco de Mayo celebrations.