A birthday party in Mexico just isn´t a birthday party, unless a piñata is beaten to a pulp.
In fact, the word piñata is often an abbreviated term for birthday party. “Ceci is going to a piñata tomorrow” is a legitimate way to say that Ceci is going to a birthday party. Because, after all, what is the point of a birthday party without the piñata?
Among other places, piñatas are sold at the market downtown and any materias primas store. (For those who haven´t been to a materia prima store, that´s a whole cultural experience in itself! The Cuellar stores on the Periferico, or El Doblón on Eulalio Gutierrez are great examples. The first time I wandered through one, I thought I had died and gone to candy heaven.) However, in my experience, the best place to get a piñata in Saltillo is on the corner of Luis Corona and Matamoros, downtown.
Four or five family-owned stores dot the corner of Corona and Matamoros. Piñatas are made right there, and they cost anywhere from $75 to $160, depending on the size. Yes, even those freakishly huge, larger-than-the-birthday-boy piñatas can cost $150.
Now, my birthday girl had to scan the stores, as she hates to hit anything that has a face. Almost all piñatas have a face. Fortunately, her birthday is close to Christmas, and one store still had two traditional star piñatas left over from Christmas.
Traditionally, the piñata is a seven-pointed star. The seven points represent the seven deadly sins. When the piñata is broken, the children are showered with the rewards of resisting evil. What the symbolism becomes when a princess or superhero is beaten to death, I´m not sure. But kids (over the age of 4) sure love it!
The pre-Christmas posadas usually involve piñatas, so if one is looking for a piñata during the Guadalupe Reyes season (December 12-January 6th), they recommended buying one ahead of time. These stores on Corona and Matamoros are also willing to make custom-made piñatas with a week´s notice. (It would be a good idea to give them a bit more notice during December.)
The birthday parties at our house are usually a bit different from typical Mexican birthday parties, given cultural norms that I either don´t want to participate in or don´t realize exist. But we do always have a piñata.
Everyone goes home happy.
This is the first of a series “The Best of Saltillo”. Know of a great place for . . . well, basically anything? Share with us! Send in your recommendation with at least 2 photos, an address or good directions and as many specific details as would be helpful for others to firstname.lastname@example.org.