Glorious holiday décor and reruns of “Rudolph,” Charlie Brown, and the Grinch aren’t the triggers signaling visions of chile-dusted sugarplums, peanuts and tangerines in the Christmas party bolas (treat bags).
Roughly finished brown clay jars (canteros) that transformed with tissue paper and paper mache live in the heart of the versatile, beautiful hand-made piñatas.
In every Mexican village, there are housewives positioned a block or two apart who supplement their income, year round, by making all sizes, shapes and designs of piñatas. There are tiny ones small enough to be hung on the branches of a Christmas tree, others that are favors for birthday party guests and some that are nearly life size.
These days, most piñatas look like a parade of Disney princesses and Star Wars characters there are still plenty of wise men, shepherds, lambs, dogs, snowmen, poinsettias and floppy-haired renditions of Donald Trump, Santa Claus.
The most traditional design, still a favorite after many centuries, is the Sputnik-shaped star with from five to seven points. The cantero is covered with fringed tissue paper and tassels dangle from shiny paper cone.
At posadas and all other parties and fiestas at Lakeside, the heavy candy and fruit-filled piñatas are fastened onto a system of ropes and pulleys strung over the street or in a garden. The person in charge of the pulley jerks and pulls the rope to make the piñata swings low, sometimes scraping the street. Just as the child stumbles over the piñata at his feet and takes a mighty swing, the rope is pulled and the piñata is suddenly dangling high over his head.
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