Monday, February 25, 2013

Pioneer Days Festival

We attended this festival at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg last Saturday.  Actually there was a larger fiesta going on in Edinburgh that same week-end, with a carnival and parade.  For some reason John thought that this smaller affair at the museum would be more interesting.  At this festival there were demonstrations on weaving, wood carving, corn husk doll making, and even how to rope a horse.  In the picture below several young cowboys are learning how to work the lasso.
All right, I can see my readers starting to yawn.  Wait, it does get better!  John found a booth where there was a lady very eager to teach him how to make a pinata.  She soon discovered that John was very interested in what she had to say.  In the picture below some of the pinatas which she has made are hanging behind her, one of which is a pinata celebrating the Day of the Dead.
While John was absorbing all the details which are involved in making in pinatas, I perused the written information available on the table regarding pinatas.  It is believed that the custom of swinging at the colorful boxes originated in China.  Marco Polo discovered the Chinese fashioning figures of cows and oxen and covering them with colored paper.  At their New Years celebrations the figures were knocked open and seeds spilled out.  The custom spread to Europe in the 14th century when it was adapted to Lenten  celebrations.  In Italian pignatta means "fragile pot" and clay containers were used.  In the 16th century Spanish missionaries to North America discovered the indigenous people using pinatas in a couple different ways.  They were used to celebrate the birthday of the Aztec god of war.  A clay pot was placed at the feet of an image of a god, when broken it spilled out treasures for him.  Mayans also hung a suspended clay pot, and the players of the sport, with their eyes covered, swung at it until it broke.  The missionaries adapted the sport to give the natives a religious lesson.  They filled the pinata with candies and fruit, it then was used to symbolize charity.  The stick for breaking the pinata symbolized virtue, and once it was broken the candies and fruit were the just reward for keeping the faith.  I abbreviated the religious lesson, there was much more to it than what I can cover here.  Anyway, my thinking on pinatas has certainly been broadened!
Outside of the museum there was a tent set up for musical performances.  There were cloggers from a nearby college and two Mexican ladies who did some tap dancing.  It was most impressive to also see them do their swirls and twirls with a glass of water on their heads!  I was certainly entertained at the festival, and especially enjoyed the Mexican and Native America flavor of it all.  To top everything off, a couple in their wedding regalia thought nothing of posing for pictures inside the museum, amid the throngs of people.

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