Simon Wood

Hump Day: Piñatas

I don’t like Piñatas. For those who don’t know what the whole piñata celebration is, here it is in a nutshell. A piñata is a figure, traditionally a seven-pointed star (it’s a deadly sins thing), but more commonly an animal or cartoon figure. They’re usually made from cardboard or papier-mâché, decorated in bright colors and filled with candy and toys. If you want to get really old-school, use a decorated clay pot instead of cardboard. At parties, a piñata is suspended from a rope and children, usually blindfolded, take turns hitting it with a stick/bat/blunt instrument—it depends how classy you are—until the thing breaks and the candy falls out onto the ground for the children to collect. You can see why clay pots aren’t too popular these days. Who needs a concussed child wandering around in this litigious age?

Breaking the piñata is a fun activity at Mexican parties. That’s what some people say. I don’t though.

My problem with piñatas is that they send the wrong message to children. More often than not, piñatas are made in the image of animals–donkeys, ponies, dogs, etc. Young, impressionable children then associate hitting animals with sticks with fun. So much fun that candy falls from the animal that you string up in a tree if you hit it hard enough. It’s all good, yet slightly psychopathic fun.

Personally, I think parents miss the educational boat when it comes to piñatas. This is the perfect venue to teach kids about value of an animal, especially those animals who die to provide us with food. So, if you’re planning a party with a piñata sometime soon, instead of filling it with candy, substitute chopped liver and other offal. This way you’ll be teaching kids an important life lesson. The kids will thank you for it. Trust me, I’m not a parent.

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