Are piñatas encouraging children to indulge in animal cruelty?

The first time saw a piñata was at a friend’s birthday party in first grade. Truth be told he wasn’t really my friend at all. I only received an invitation because his mum felt sorry for the nerdy kid who sat in the library reading comic books at lunch time but I still got to eat a bunch of cake and fairy bread in exchange for a present that my parents paid for anyway so that’s a win in my book.




I remember looking at that strange kaleidoscopically coloured psuedodonkey with a sense of childlike wonder (the sole kind of wonder I was able to employ at that stage). I thought to myself:

“Is this some pagan god being raised above our heads that we might worship it? Is all this elaborate feasting actually in celebration of this rainbow coloured donkey in the hope that he will bestow some magical burro blessings upon our assembly?

What if God finds out??? He might get angry and take away all my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys and give them to the Archangels to play with! I bet Gabriel can’t even do Donatello’s voice right at all!”   



"And verily Donatello doth wield the mighty longstick of justice, smiting down his heathen enemies and gazing disapprovingly at those who work upon the Sabbath day."


As I watched that colourful idol being raised high above our heads, I ignored the mounting desire to fall on my knees in supplication. This was fortunate because if I had gotten grass stains on my only pair of Good Pants mum would have given me a scolding from which no donkey deity in existence could possibly save me.

I stared at its colourful hide, resplendent in the summer sun. Its bright, vacant eyes seemed to stare omnisciently out at the world beneath it. It was a few moments before I noticed that the birthday boy (who had a nasty habit of ‘doing the ups’ with a frequency altogether far too high for a seven year old boy) had raised his stick threateningly toward the Donkey god.

I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound escaped my lips (although this may have been predominately attributed to the fact that my mouth was currently occupied with the act of furiously masticating on a piece of chocolate cake, two freddo frogs and a caramel button). My wide young eyes watched in horror as the Donkey God’s hide ruptured and split. It would be many years later that I would learn the word ‘deicide’, which is unfortunate really because that was perhaps the only moment in my existence that screaming ‘DEICIDE!’ would ever be applicable.




But lo! What wonder spilled forth from the hide of the Donkey God? Verily and forsooth, it was a torrential rain of all the sweets and splendours that all the wide heavens could ever seek to contain! Vile, smelly Lucas basked in a shower of freddo frogs, lollipops and hard candies. What a marvellous marriage of violence and confectionary!

What strange abhorrent wonder had I beheld? My mind reeled with the possibilities and implications. Would all animals yield similar bounty? Was all mammalian life on earth secretly a walking receptacle for copious amounts of candy? Perhaps my very own cat was proudly prowling around my house concealing a gut filled with more delicious delights than a halloween trick or treat sack? It was only a week later, after some unfortunate and highly unsuccessful experimentation involving a large stick and my grandfather’s prize jersey cow, that I was dutifully informed that piñatas were not real animals, and that the inside of a cow was really just a collection of muscles, stomachs and intestines.


            Jersey_cow[1]    FC_NotEqual_41725_lg         JerseyCaramels

       Note to 7 year old self: Jersey cows do not 

contain Jersey caramels. 


“Gross!” I yelled. “Thank god we don’t have to ever eat that!” My mother placed my dinner of steak and veggies before me, opened her mouth as if to speak, then simply smiled and sunk her teeth into the first bite of juicy red rump.