Piñatas are believed to have originated among the Aztecs, the Mayans and other indigenous tribes of Mexico, they used to make pots and hollow clay sculptures in the shape of their gods. These piñatas, some filled with grain or fruit, broke into celebrations and religious festivals, and the contents spilled represented the abundance or favors granted by the gods.
Mexican historians tell us that during the celebration of the birthday of the Aztec war-god, Huitzilopochtli, priests hung a clay pot on a pole in the temple. The pot was decorated with colorful feathers and filled with little treasures and ornaments of beads, colored stones or painted, berries or nuts. When the pot was broken with a stick, containing the treasures was spilled at the feet of God as an offering.
It is also believed that it was the Spanish conquistadors who brought and spread the practice of the piñata in Mexico, where it became very popular may be because of the Mayan tradition that resembles it.
What is certain is that the Spanish used the piñata as a tool of evangelization in the “New World”. In the early sixteenth century, Spanish missionaries who came to America attracted the natives to their ceremonies by using piñatas.
The friars cleverly transformed the traditional ceremony of the clay pot in to religious instruction sessions. They did this by covering the pot with colored paper, and perhaps giving it a bad and impressive appearance.