Birthday pastry cultural variations

Variations on the birthday pastry exist outside of Western culture. The Chinese birthday pastry is the sou bao (), lotus-paste-filled buns made of wheat flour which are shaped and colored to resemble peaches. A single large pastry is not often served, rather each guest is served their own. In Korea, the traditional birthday dish is a seaweed soup. In Western Russia, birthday children are served fruit pies with a birthday greetings carved into the crusts. The Swedish birthday cake is made like a pound cake and is often topped with marzipan and decorated with the national flag. A Dutch birthday pastry are fruit tarts topped with whipped cream. The Mexican birthday tradition involves a pinata, a colored brittle container filled with candy. A pinata (Spanish pronunciation: [piata]) is a container made often of papier-mache, pottery, or cloth and decorated, filled with small toys and/or candy, and then broken as part of a ceremony or celebration. Pinatas are most commonly associated with Mexico, but their origins are considered to be in China. The idea of breaking a container filled with treats came to Europe in the 14th century, where the name, from the Italian “pignatta” was introduced. The Spanish brought the European tradition to Mexico, although there were similar traditions in Mesoamerica. The Aztecs had a similar tradition to honor the birthday of the god Huitzilopochtli in mid December. According to local records, the Mexican pinata tradition began in the town of Acolman, just north of Mexico City, where pinatas were introduced for catechism purposes as well as to co-opt the Huitzilopochtli ceremony. Today, the pinata is still part of Mexican culture, the cultures of other countries in Latin America, as well as the United States, but it has mostly lost its religious character.Most people think of pinatas as a fun activity for parties but they have a long history.[1] There is some debate but it appea

s that its origin is not Spanish but rather Chinese.[2] The Chinese version was in the shape of a cow or ox and used for the New Year. It was decorated with symbols and colors meant to produce a favorable climate for the coming growing season. It was filled with five types of seeds and then hit with sticks of various colors. After the pinata was broken, the remains were burned and the ashes kept for good luck.[1][3][4] Pinatas arrived to Europe in the 14th century where they were adapted to the celebrations of Lent. The first Sunday of Lent became "Pinata Sunday". In Spain, this festival was called the Dance of the Pinata, and used a clay pot, which initially was not decorated. Later ribbons, tinsel, and colored paper were added. The word "pinata" most likely comes from the Italian word "pignatta" which means "fragile pot" as the European version used the clay containers used for carrying water. However, the word has also been linked to pineapples ("pina" in Spanish) as well as the Latin prefix "pina"[dubious – discuss] which means a cluster of flowers or fruits.[1][3] The European pinata tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century; however, there was a similar tradition in Mesoamerica already. The Mayan tradition was similar to the modern pinata tradition, including blindfolding the participant hitting the pinata. The Aztec tradition commemorated the birthday of Huitzilopochtli. Priests would place a clay pot decorated with colorful feathers. When broken with a stick or club, the treasures inside would fall to the feet of the idol as an offering.[1] According to local records, the pinata was first used for evangelism purposes in 1586, in Acolman, in modern State of Mexico, just north of Mexico City. The Augustinian monks there modified European pinatas, along with creation of the Las Posadas tradition to co-opt the celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, which was celebrated in mid December.