The History of the Piñata and Some Mexican Piñata Songs for Las Posadas

It’s thought that Marco Polo brought piñatas to Italy after learning about them in China.

The Chinese would make figures of different animals and stuff them with seeds in anticipation of the New Year. They would hit the figures with sticks and the seeds would pour out. They would then burn the seeds. People thought the ashes would bring them good luck throughout the new year, so they would gather them up and keep them.

Piñatas became popular in Italy in the 13th century and they eventually made their way to Spain. When the Spanish missionaries went to the area that is now Mexico in the 16th century, they brought piñatas with them. Over time, piñatas become synonymous with celebrating.

Nowadays, piñatas are an important part of the Mexican celebration of Las Posadas, especially for children. Las Posadas is a popular holiday in Mexico celebrated before Christmas. Mexican people sing songs called Cantos para romper la piñata (Songs for Breaking the Piñata), while their children try to hit the piñata.

Here are some of the songs they sing. I’ve posted the English translations and the original Spanish versions…

Songs for Breaking the Piñata
(English)

Hit, hit, hit,
Don’t lose your aim,
Because if you lose it,
You lose the way.

Hit, hit, hit,
Don’t lose your aim,
Measure the distance
That’s on the way.

I don’t want gold
I don’t want silver
What I want is
To break the piñata

Throw candies
And mints
For the kids
Who are very greedy

The piñata has pee,
Pee,
Pee…
Peanuts by the ton!

Cantos para romper la piñata
(Spanish)

Dale, dale, dale,
No pierdas el tino,
porque si lo pierdes
pierdes el camino

Dale, dale, dale,
No pierdas el tino,
Mide la distancia
Que hay en el camino

No quiero oro
No quiero plata
yo lo que quiero
es romper la piñata

Echen confites
y canelones
pa’ los muchachos
que son muy tragones.

La piñata tiene caca,
tiene caca,
tiene caca,
cacahuates de a montón.

Happy Las Posadas!

Lisa

About Las Posadas in Mexico – The Celebration and Song

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Mexico Page for more Mexican Children’s Songs

And the Mama Lisa’s World Spain Page for more Spanish Children’s Songs

Translation by Lisa Yannucci, and Monique Palomares at Mama Lisa’s World en français.

UPDATE: In a later blog entry I posted a YouTube video of a Mexican Piñata Song so you can hear the tune.

This article was posted on Friday, December 16th, 2005 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Cantos para romper la piñata - Songs for Breaking the, Cantos para romper la piñata - Songs for Breaking the, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Las Posadas, Las Posadas, Las Posadas Songs, Mexican Children's Songs, Mexico, Spanish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “The History of the Piñata and Some Mexican Piñata Songs for Las Posadas”

  1. Lisa Says:

    After some research, I’ve discovered that these “Cantos para romper la piñata” are really chanted rather than sung.

  2. Lola Says:

    I’m not so sure about that. My school band is playing an arrangement called “Christmas in Mexico” and all the Mexican students and parents recognize the tune of ” Dale Dale”, so I would say there’s a melody.

    I am so glad to find the translation! I could find it for the Posadas, but not for this one. Thank you!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing! I’m wondering if there’s any way you could send me a recording of the Dale tune? It’d be very helpful!

    -Lisa

  4. Denise Says:

    Jose Luis Orozco has a good recording of Dale, Dale, Dale. It’s on the De Colores CD. It is always sung when the pinata is hit. Disney Presenta Canciones Infantiles is also a good recording of different Mexican folk songs.

    Denise from Laredo, TX

  5. Denise Gunner Says:

    Thank you for the lyrics. I am living in Mexico & trying to learn Spanish. I have been to several parties, and I am usually the only one who doesn’t know the Mexican birthday song & the Mexican píñata song. This is going to help me a lot!

  6. Jason Fanter Says:

    Denise Gunner – Can you call me in Indianapolis/Westfield? I really need to contact you. Jason

  7. fernando Says:

    sweet

  8. Katie Says:

    i love this song
    i have heard it at every
    birthday i have ever attended.
    it has the catchiest tune and
    its very easy to memorize,
    if you hear it once you will
    never ever be able to forget it (:

  9. Katie Says:

    thanks for the lyrics too, haha
    i was confused on some words
    because i havent lived with my
    mexican family for about 4 years
    now.

  10. Lisa Says:

    Would you like to sing it for us Katie?

    :)

    -Mama Lisa

  11. Jacob Trippe Says:

    Hi,

    During the compilation of my research paper on Hindu cultural traditions, I stumbled upon the roots of Pinata and its breaking.

    It comes from a story in the Ramayan in which Krishn, as a young boy would greedily raid the fresh butter churned out by his mother Yashoda, after she had finished milking the home cows in the morning (very hard work)!

    His mother, angry with his raiding, hung up the clay vessels containing the ‘Makkhan’ (butter) high up on the roof and so the boy piled up boxes (and others stuff) reached high and broke the vessels (called matki) to raid the butter.

    When Yashoda heard the noise of the breaking pot, she charged into the room in a rage but found the butter-streaked face of Krishn so charming that that her anger disappeared.

    Hence the tradition of breaking a Matki on ceratin days in Mumbai India to the chants of “Govinda Alaa Rey” (Govinda is another name of Krishn) – Is Coming.

    I have a link to this festival here. They form a human pyramind upto 3-4 storeys high and all the local cheers them on.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjIYunyxumM

    This happens in many places in India, they even have songs on it.

    Thanks,

    Jacob

  12. Lisa Says:

    That’s interesting Jacob. Thanks for sharing! Lisa

  13. Vicki, American wife of Mexican husband and children Says:

    Muchisimas gracias!
    My own children have had 3 years of birthday parties to which my husband and all his mexican friends come and sing with fervor the pinata song, and I’m the only one clapping with a stupid grin on my face trying to pick up the words! I must admit, there is a different rendition they sing, but I recognized it right away! I am a Spanish teacher and look forward to teaching my students this really really festive song for the posadas time of year!

  14. Nina Says:

    Ha!
    I wish I can have a birthday party with a pinata also!

  15. Fernando Says:

    Hi!

    It’s really interesting to read the comments section!

    You only forgot the ending:

    Ya le diste uno, ya le diste dos,
    ya le diste tres y tu tiempo se acabó.

    You’ve hit it once, you’ve hit it twice,
    you’ve hit it thrice, now you’re time is up.

    You’ve to adjust how much and how fast or slow you sing, to keep someone from breaking the piñata too soon.

    And as kind of a joke, some will sing as a kid’s turn is ending (just between family!):

    Ese niño / Esa niña es muy listo, (a) / es muy tonto, (a)
    es muy listo (a), / es muy tonto (a)
    se parece a su mamá / papá

    That girl / that boy is really smart, / dumb,
    really smart, / dumb,
    same as his / her mom / dad

    haha!

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