Spending Time with Candies and Piñatas

Jose Velasquez owns and manages Dulceria Mi Carnaval on the corner of Santa Clara and 24th Street. He has been here for 30 years, selling candies and building custom piñatas. Photo Credit: Estephany Haro

Local business Dulcería Mi Carnaval benefits from a festive Mexican tradition during the holidays 

Estephany Haro
El Observador 

Dulcería Mi Carnaval is a small family business located on the street corner of Santa Clara and 24th street in San Jose. Just like any other businesses, Dulcería Mi Carnaval relies on the holiday season to generate a great deal of its overall profits.

The shop, a bright pink corner building, houses candy, party supplies and of course the piñatas. Although the main seller is the colorful cast of characters that are the piñatas at the shop, it is not due to people giving them out as gifts or for holiday birthdays, but purchasing them to celebrate one of Mexico’s most popular tradition during the holidays, las posadas navideñas.

This tradition not only brings joy to families but also benefits business owners like Jose Velazquez, who has been running Dulcería Mi Carnaval for over 30 years. The party-supply business was passed on to him from his sister after she opened it in 1986.

It has always been a family business, my sister started like in 1986 and I took over like three or four years after she sold it to me, and I’ve been here ever since I’ve been with this business,” Velazquez said.

During this time of the year, Velazquez sees a rise of people that organize posadas coming into Dulcería Mi Carnaval as he sells the key items of this tradition. Piñatas, traditional candy, candles, and song booklets which are used as part of the communal tradition in Mexico and other parts of Latin America can be found here.

The Posadas started in Mexico during the Colonial era to commemorate Joseph and Mary’s pilgrimage through Belen, Jerusalem, according to Mexico desconocido. They are celebrated in houses, churches and in the streets, making a very inclusive and community driven time of the year. The elements of a posada include singing, lighting candles, and breaking special piñatas which are essentially a sphere shape with 7 cones, like a 3 dimensional star.

The holidays are good for us because we sell a lot of traditional stars with seven cones, which means the seven deadly sins… they break one for every posada and people have them like 12 days before christmas,” Velazquez said.

The seven cones of the piñatas represent the seven sins of the Christian religion: arrogance, avarice, lust, rage, gluttony, envy and laziness. Each cone representing one the sins, according to Zocalo Mexico.

By breaking the cones off these colorful “posada piñatas” one is awarded with the treats within.

The candy itself also plays an important role during posadas. “Mostly people buy the traditional candy which is the mazapan, duvalins, peanuts, the marshmallow,” Velazquez said.

However, not all the month of December generates profit for this family-owned business. Velazquez said that only about two weeks of December people go in to buy what they need for their posadas, as one of their biggest requests are the seven cone piñatas, one of the few places in San Jose that have them. But even then, Velasquez knows that during this season, “It’s a very good last month for us.”

He hopes to keep expanding his business by making more custom made piñatas, which are mostly constructed and designed by his wife and him as that has brought in more customers from all backgrounds.

We have people from India coming, not just Mexicans buy piñatas. We have Chinese and Japanese people, everybody’s buying a piñata for their kids so it has increased our profits when we do custom orders and that’s what brings our customers to our business,” Velazquez said.

From local team customizations like a hat emblazoned with the Golden State Warriors logo, to custom Kim Kardashian pinata, these orders come in all shapes and sizes, but are crucial for the business.

In one room of the shop Velasquez works on a custom rocket ship order, and just beyond the work table is a finished Disney Dumbo figure, complete with the iconic large ears. They will all break eventually if used for their purpose, but they are wonderful figures to look at until then.