Many Texas holiday traditions are in full-swing. Some folks hang lights, some will go to a German-style Christmas market. Others will make tamales and attend at least one posada. If you’ve never been to one – they’re like a holiday block party. Posadas are often organized by a Catholic community to mark the Biblical journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to stay in Bethlehem. Some posadas are huge, others are intimate. But almost all of them include a special piñata. A place many folks in the Central Texas city of Manor get their posada piñata. Is one you’d only find by word of mouth.
Off a dirt trail, and past a black cat perched on a shed, sits a humble home on the outskirts of Manor. Inside, piñatas hang in the kitchen, in the living room and on every corner. Shiny, tinfoil-like paper sits on the kitchen table, next to a bucket of giant balloons, plastered with newspaper.
Julieta De Jesus says it’s long been her family’s tradition to make piñatas – since she was a child in Mexico. A decade ago, the family decided to begin the tradition again in the United States.
De Jesus says she missed the days of making piñatas in Mexico and began making smaller versions with her kids. Soon, she started making them by request for events or birthdays.
When posada season rolled around, she was asked to make the seven-spiked piñata. The spikes represent the seven deadly sins. De Jesus says the family made the piñatas as well as they knew how, and with the few resources they had, for the local churches’ posadas.
Today, she practices every day, perfecting the art of the seven-spiked piñata, teaching her children along the way.
Her mom, Francisca De Jesus, says there is something magical about making them with her grandchildren – continuing the tradition that she began with her kids many years ago.
Francisca’s college-age grandson, Ivan, is at the kitchen table. A bowl of engrudo, the homemade glue consisting of flour and water, sits next to him, along with many layers of shiny wrapping paper. He helps his mom, Julieta, make piñatas before he has to leave for class.
As he gets up to leave, Julieta’s goddaughter, Liliana Angel is excited to take his place. She rushed home from school, and through her homework so she could help with the piñatas.
Her godmother tells her to be patient – the glue isn’t even dry yet. Francisca says she remembers feeling the same excitement as a young girl in Mexico.
Making the seven-spiked piñatas is a lot of work -– and takes a lot of hands. Francisca says it also brings so much joy to their family and it’s what they look forward to all day.