While recently trying to purchase a piñata for an upcoming birthday party, I was smacked in the brain by a little "tidbit" of information that was both shocking and a little disheartening. During my online search for a specific piñata, I kept seeing the term "pull-string piñata." Of course, I could see pictures of what looked like good ol' fashioned piñatas for sale, and sure enough, they had colorful strings hanging off of them, which at first I believed to be merely for decoration...but whoah was I wrong! The strings were in fact (as the name implies) for pulling. Then, I asked myself, why would you pull strings on a piñata? It was then I began to read the description of these fun party game favorites, and lo and behold, I learned that now instead of hitting the piñata with a stick or a small bat until the candy and toy filled figure gives up the goods, some people have gone to a more gentle approach by having kids (and adults) take turns pulling the strings one by one, and when the lucky "puller" gives it a yank...it's chaos and cavities for all! As I began to figure out this new "piñata paradigm", the conclusion I came to was, it is an attempt to circumvent all the senseless "party game violence" associated with beating the piñata into candy giving submission. In my mind I really do want to understand and accept the whole "pull string theory”, but no. I can’t. That’s not how a piñata works. Pulling strings? Really? Where’s the excitement, where’s the fun, where’s the danger?
O.K. let me point out that I do indeed understand how we live in a world fraught with increasing violence. I read the news (probably more than most), and I see the shocking stories of violence by young people, whether through acts of school shootings, stabbings, and threats against other students and teachers, and even violence against their own parents and family members. Yes, we do have a problem. But you can’t convince me that piñatas are a part of the problem, whereby worsening the situation. If you do a little research, piñatas actually have a long history going back to 13th century China (yes, apparently China did invent everything). Back then the figures were made of clay and filled with goodies, and broken open how? That’s right, by hitting them with sticks! So, you can’t tell me that eight centuries of piñatas are the problem for modern day violence. Do we need to teach our kids not to be violent, yes! Do we need to teach our kids to be respectful, yes! Does our society have some work to do to help curb violence…a big time YES! But having to change the whole method for the “payoff” of a fun party game? Let’s get real folks, piñatas aren’t the problem.
I can see wanting to teach children at a young age not to engage in “violent behavior,” like swinging sticks and bats at the wrong things i.e. people, pets, cars, windows etc... But if we’re convinced that swinging a stick for a game is inappropriate, we can forget about little Johnny or Joanie ever playing little league baseball or softball. Not that we play a lot of it here in the U.S., but how about the game of cricket? They use a bat. Sure it’s rectangular, but a bat none the less. How about a leisurely game of croquet on a sunny Sunday afternoon with the kids? Forget it! Oh the trouble you can get into with those mallets. You can’t tell me that soccer can’t be violent. Look around the world and tell me why in some places they have to put chain link fencing between the fans and the field. Or watch how riots breakout in the stands at soccer matches. Sure hockey is violent, but even tennis, and golf can be a dangerous sport if the equipment is used in a violent way! And don’t even get me started on lawn darts. If you want a world with less violence, you want to pin the blame on something or someone? Look around you, it’s not how you break open a piñata that’s at fault. It never has been, it never will be.
So forget the strings and swing away my fellow birthday party revelers! And remember, just like all other games we play at parties, if you do it responsibly, everybody has a good time…and maybe you even get some candy!
I’ll see you in groves and thanks for reading.