Starting a Mexican birthday tradition

It was S’s first birthday last week and despite the very English weather we celebrated in Mexican style.

We started the morning with several rounds of Las Mañanitas, the Mexican birthday song. Unlike Happy Birthday, Las Mañanitas is sung on waking up in the morning and starts with the words ‘Wake up my love, wake up, it is now dawn’.  Unfortunately S had already been awake since 5am!

We then got to work hanging up the papel picado (traditional Mexican decorations), finishing of the cake and filling up the piñatas.  We made three piñatas although we only used one in the end because it was raining.

Making piñatas is quite a time consuming task, and although S is obviously still to small to have a go at hitting a piñata, I thought everyone would enjoy it and hopefully by the time he is old enough he will have seen it enough times to know what it is all about.  L printed out and translated the words to the piñata song so everyone could join in – which worked surprisingly well despite there being only a few Spanish speakers.

pinataFor those of you who are not familiar with piñatas, they are paper mache shapes covered in brightly coloured paper and decorations and filled with sweets.  Each participant, usually a child, will have a turn at hitting the piñata, which is hung from above on a rope. The participant is blindfolded, given a wooden stick, and then spun a number of times. As the participants works to hit the piñata, while another moves it to make it harder to hit. There is a time limit to any one person’s attempts, which is marked out by the singing of a traditional song.  Here is the translation of the lyrics of the song we used. Unfortunately I can’t find the music online right now, but I will post later if I do.

Hit it, hit it, hit, aim just right, because if you miss, you’ll lose your way, you tried once, you tried twice, you tried three times and now your time is up.

dale dale daleOne of S’s presents from us was a hand puppet of a mariachi who has been named Memo el Mariachi.  I had heard about the use of puppets in bilingual households as the puppet only speaks a certain language, and thought a mariachi would be fun.  S loves him!  A big thanks to the lovely Patricia from Minorca in Ireland who made him.


Have you started any traditions from your country to help develop language and cultural identity? Please share any tips in the comments below, it would be lovely to hear from you.


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