Tag Archives: Albuquerque

The Piñata Exhibit – Sure to be a Smash Hit!

The piñata exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque is always high on my list when I’m in New Mexico.  We were in town for our Zuniga Family Reunion over the Fourth of July holiday weekend and the family always builds in time for everyone to do a little exploring.  My cousin, Boogie (real name Ophelia),  my mother and I set out to check out the Center and found out there was a Piñata exhibit!

An entire exhibit devoted to piñatas???  We were intrigued!  I mean, we all know what piñatas are…. papier-mache figures, typically of donkeys that are filled with candy.  You are blindfolded, you hit them with a stick until they bust and then everyone scatters for the treats!  I still remember a birthday party I went to when I was around 8 years old in Puerto Rico.  All the kids were in a circle surrounding the hanging piñata waiting our turn to hit the donkey.  We were also close enough to dart for the candy if it got busted!  I guess I may have been a little too close, or maybe the stick was just that long.  I was standing in just the right spot for the little boy taking his turn to bring that long stick down, miss the donkey, and hit me squarely in the head!  I don’t remember if I got any candy after that or not!

While walking through the exhibit, we got a great history of piñatas as we admired the display.  The first ones were rather old, including one said to be a vintage China Poblana piñata from the 1930s.  This particular piñata was the inspiration to create this exhibit.  It’s faded from age and looks so fragile!  I guess I didn’t think of these objects of art as being very old but in truth, it’s thought that they originated in China and that Marco Polo was so fascinated by them in the late 1200’s that he took some back to Europe.  At the time, piñatas were made by using a clay jar (an “olla”) as the base.  They were then covered with paper or reeds and ultimately decorated with things like tissue paper, foil and other festive items.

Something I didn’t know was that piñatas were a religious custom in Spain during Lent in the 14th century.  In particular, they were broken on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday which was called “Piñata Sunday!”  They were seen as a symbol of temptation and represented evil.  Covering the person’s eyes while attempting to hit the piñata represented blind faith and the ability to conquer evil.  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico during the 16th century they discovered piñatas already existed in the Indigenous culture to honor Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the sun.  This festivity took place in December which was the god’s birth month.

In current Mexican culture, piñatas are very popular during Christmastime as part of Las Posadas.  These are the festivities that happen the nine days before Christmas when people gather to reenact  the Virgin Mary and Joseph in a procession, searching for a place to have the birth of Jesus.  During the procession, a piñata is carried from house to house and when the last house is reached, there is a piñata party.  The traditional style piñata used for the procession is a multi-pointed star representing the Star of Bethlehem that guided the three wise men.

The vintage Zozobra piñatas were rather interesting!  This one is extremely popular in northern New Mexico and Santa Fe.  The Zozobra is part piñata and part marionette – an effigy – that is burned every year during the Santa Fe Fiestas in September.  He’s referred to as Old Man Gloom (OMG) and was introduced in 1926.  His burning is done to dispel the hardships and troubles of the past year.

Who knew there was such a rich history surrounding piñatas?!  Mom, Boogie and I had a lot of fun exploring the rest of museum afterward, but not before stopping for a photo shoot of us posing with a stick in front of a piñata!  If you are in Albuquerque between now and March 31, 2018, stop by the Hispanic National Cultural Center and check out this really unique exhibit.

 

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And the Day of the Dead collection continues to grow…

Cynthia Rowley placements I found at TJ Maxx this year!

Collecting Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos items has become a year-round thing for me.  It used to be that I would begin seeing things in stores around September but these days, you can find things all the time!  Granted, a lot of the items I find in local stores like Target are rather whimsical and mass-produced.  They still blend nicely with my more unique pieces and give me ideas for creating my annual Day of the Dead altar at home.

DOD Sugar Skull yoga pants! Aren’t these cool?!

In August, I was in TJ Maxx with my daughter when I spotted these cute pumpkin DOD placemats by Cynthia Rowley!  There was also a tablecloth, but I decided to just get the placemats.  Of course, when you are at TJ Maxx, you have to look through the clothes section and I was thrilled to find these sugar skull yoga pants!  I’m sure I’m going to turn a few heads when I wear them at my local YMCA later this month!

I always go to World Market to see what their new collection looks like.  I happened to hit it right when they were putting all their items out on display last month.  I was drawn to this sugar skull bowl because of the subtle colors.  Plus they had a pillow with the same sugar skulls and colors on it!  I had a $40 gift card which helped me pay for these two items.  Oh, and I also found this incredibly colorful porcelain cup because…why not?!

On to Target…you know they always have a DOD collection and it seems to have gotten bigger over the years!   This year, I added a sugar skull banner, a trio of Day of the Dead birds, two sugar skull “dolls” and a sugar skull candle holder!  They also have some cutesy items in their Dollar Spot section and I decided to buy two of the fabric sugar skull buckets.  I figured they would be good to use for candy for Halloween.  It’s interesting how both World Market and Target seem to have coordinated their color scheme this year for their collections.  I’m loving the blues, oranges and pinks in these new items and they’ve made for a very coordinate kitchen table this year!

These little sugar skull pup salt and pepper shakers remind me of my pup, Lucy! These are from Von Maur.

Von Maur Department Store had these cute sugar skull dog salt and pepper shakers!  They reminded me of my pup, Lucy so of course I had to buy them!  This was an unexpected place to find DOD items!

Vintage style designs on these Day of the Dead placemats I found at the Albuquerque airport!

This year, we had my Zuniga family reunion in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I always look forward to finding new DOD items when I’m in NM or out west.  Amazingly, I always find the best items at the Albuquerque airport!  These placemats are beautiful with their traditional depictions including La Catrina, La Virgen de Guadalupe and dancing sugar skulls.  I bought 6 total – two of each and plan to use them on my dining room table when I create my altars this year.

In addition, at our reunion I snagged these beautiful Catrina candle sticks!  I plan to use them this month and next around the house.  They are so colorful!  And I also came home with a purple and yellow sugar skull very large cup that my cousin Boogie made!  Could this BE any more perfect for this time of year???  Or any time, really…

Sugar skull puppy toys – one for Lucy and one for my grandpup, Lucia! These are from Pet Smart.

Finally…I was in Pet Smart to pick up some doggie treats for my pup, Lucy when I spotted these DOD puppy toys!  I picked up one for Lucy and one for my grandpup, Lucia!  They squeak which should make for an interesting game of fetch and retrieve!

I’m sure there will be more to add as we get closer to Day of the Dead.  I really can’t help myself when I see these items…I think I’m going to have to add another storage container or two this year to accommodate everything!

Gathering of the Clans

Zuniga family reunion 2003 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Zuniga family reunion 2003 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The 2003 Zuniga Family Reunion in Albuquerque, New Mexico was so wonderful!  We had a huge turnout that year and I loved spending time with everyone and hearing their stories.  Looking back at the photos of that reunion makes me both happy and sad…we’ve lost a few family members since them.  That’s why these reunions are so important and we make every effort to attend every two years.  We alternate these gatherings between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Denver, Colorado.  Next year we will be in Albuquerque and we’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Zuniga Reunions.  It’s sure to be special…

When we left the 2003 reunion, we had a little time to spend in the Albuquerque airport before our flight.  My kids wanted to pick up souvenirs so we wandered into a few stores and they found a few little trinkets to bring back home.  There was a gift shop that had a lot of Hispanic art and Day of the Dead items for sale that got “my” attention though.  As I made my way through the store something else drew my attention too.  There were these pins on the counter near the cashier.  Petroglyphs.  Ancient folkart…they were beautiful.  Each one was on a card and had a saying.  I stared at them for the longest time and then selected the one that kept drawing my eye.

It was called “Gathering of the Clans.”  I turned it over and began reading…

My people came this way.  They welcomed those who joined their journey.  We tell their stories:  The stories of the gathering of the clans. 

 

Petroglyph Pin - Gathering of the Clans by Alice Seeley, New Mexico Artist

Petroglyph Pin – Gathering of the Clans by Alice Seeley, New Mexico Artist

I remember thinking…wow!  Here we were at a family reunion and this was the pin that I picked up.  It was almost as if it had selected me!  I bought this pin…and a few others that day.  Each of their sayings hit close to home .  Each spoke of family, ancestors and stories.   I wore this cluster of pins for quite a while on a favorite jean jacket.  They were always a topic of conversation and it always took me back to that particular family reunion.

NOTE:  These pins were created by New Mexican artist, Alice Seeley.  She is a painter turned jeweler and she creates these designs in lead-free pewter.  All jewelry is marked with her name and the year.

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