Piñatas: made in Acolman since 1587. Piñatas: made in Acolman since 1587.

They’ve made piñatas for over 400 years

Acolman's annual fair celebrates a tradition the Spanish monks began

They’ll be knocking the stuffing out of a few piñatas this week in Acolman, the Estado de México town just north of Mexico City that is regarded as the birthplace of the piñata in Mexico.

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It’s time for the annual Piñata Fair, a family event that is expected to draw as many as 300,000 visitors, and a tradition going back 30 years.

But an older tradition is that of creating the piñata itself. Spanish monks are credited with its Mexican beginnings when they made the first Mexican piñata in the Convent of San Agustín, located in Acolman, in 1587.

Today it is a common feature at parties where it is subjected to multiple whackings with a stick by blindfolded party-goers who endeavor to break it open and release the candies and gifts inside.

But the monks had different ideas. The seven points of a traditional piñata represented the seven deadly sins, the container inside represented evil and its contents of fruit and candy were the temptations of evil.

The person with the stick was supposed to represent faith, and the process was a reenactment of the struggle against evil.

Today in Acolman there are some 60 piñata makers, six families who will be at the center of the Piñata Fair because it is an event staged especially for them, says the municipality’s director of communications, Daniel Velázquez.

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Grandparents, parents and children are all dedicated to the artisanal process of piñata-making, he said, and nearly all have the surname Zacarías.

They will all converge on the square in front of municipal headquarters, starting today, to demonstrate and teach the process and sell their products.

There will also be a competition, said Velázquez, explaining that a pyrotechnical piñata was another local product.

The piñata shoots off fireworks using a mechanical process, much like a fireworks castillo. He didn’t say if eye protection was recommended.

There will also be several live music shows at the fair, which wraps up on Sunday.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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