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U.S. Postal Service rolls out piñata stamps during Hispanic heritage month


The U.S. Postal Service is rolling out its latest special edition postage stamps, paying homage to a Hispanic tradition that has evolved over centuries to become a universal symbol of celebration.

Stamps featuring colorful piñatas designed by Seattle-based artist Victor Meléndez were released Friday. They debut as the U.S. marks a monthlong recognition of Hispanic heritage and the start of an annual piñata festival in New Mexico.

Previous stamp collections highlighting Hispanic culture were dedicated to mariachi music and Day of the Dead.

Meléndez says he hopes the new stamps will spark conversations and encourage people to learn about different cultures.

Piñatas are synonymous with parties, although their history is layered and can be traced to 16th century trade routes between Latin America and Asia and the efforts of Spanish missionaries to convert Indigenous communities to Christianity. It was through dance, music and the arts — including the making of piñatas — that biblical stories were spread throughout the New World.

Piñatas became a key part of celebrating Las Posadas — the festivities held each December in Mexico and other Latin American countries to mark the birth of Christ. The religious origins are evident in the classic piñata designs of the seven-point star and the burro, or donkey, said Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Piñatas imported from Mexico line parts of Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles. In Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, people have turned their kitchen tables and garages into makeshift piñata factories, turning out custom shapes for birthday parties and special events.

The stamps were inspired by the childhood memories of graphic designer Victor Meléndez, who grew up in Mexico City and remembers spending days with cousins and other relatives making piñatas to celebrate Las Posadas. His mother also would make piñatas for birthdays.