“Easter is coming, Easter is coming.” I heard this today from my two young nieces. They are looking forward to visiting with extended family, attending services, and celebrating the day.
When I heard their excited voices it brought back so many memories of Easter outfits, food, chocolate bunnies, and cascarones (confetti eggs).
During our childhood and teen-hood we celebrated Easter by getting dressed up in sometimes okay and sometimes ghastly Easter outfits that my mom picked for us.
I have photos to prove it, but I won’t post them, or my sisters and brother will hit me with a dozen cascarones.
My mother firmly believed in dressing up for Christmas and Easter and even now scrunches up her nose when children do not have on appropriate clothes. We were poor, but she somehow managed to get us gussied up on those two holidays and believes every parent should make that effort. But that’s another story.
On Easter we’d go to Mass, Mom would take photos and then she’d let us change into play clothes so we could go to the home of a relative or to a park for the Easter meal.
Let me tell you, it was a full on spread of potato salad, chili beans, Mexican rice (the special holiday kind with peas), chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, green Jell-o, and cupcakes with yellow frosting decorated with colored green coconut and jellybean eggs. Very cool.
There was not much ‘green’ in our menu unless you counted the fake green grass in the Easter baskets or the green coconut.
And there was the Easter Egg hunt, whether the home had grass or not. We have been known to hide Easter goodies in dirt, sand, or nopal bushes, depending on whose house.
We had jellybean eggs, chocolate eggs, real hardboiled colored eggs, and plastic eggs. My mother would save eggshells for weeks, hiding them in the cupboards, and assembling them a couple of days before Easter. We dipped, painted, used pencils, crayons, whatever and had a messy time with coloring the eggs.
But the absolute ‘funnest’ Easter day activity was the cascarones.
Shrieks of delight, upset, fear, and revenge filled the air as the kids and the adults snuck up on others and clobbered each other on the head with the delicate colorful eggs filled with confetti.
Historians have traced these eggs back to Asia, originally filled with perfume powder, and brought to Italy by Marco Polo. The tradition was carried to Spain and then to America. It’s said that Carlotta, the wife of Emperor Maximillian was so fascinated by these eggs that she brought them to Mexico during her husband’s rule during the 1860’s.
In Mexico, people replaced the expensive perfume powder with confetti. The egg shells are called cascarones, which is from the word cascara, which means ‘shell,’ as in eggshell.
They were introduced into the United States in the 1960’s where they were used not only on Easter but during holidays and feast days.
|my own cascaron boy-alvaradofrazier.com|
I remember them fondly when I was in grammar school. During festivals, called ‘jamaicas,’ one could buy cascarones, two for a nickel. Boys loaded up on them and ran around smacking them on the shoulders or heads of girls. It usually meant the boy liked you, in that ‘caveman’ language they have.
Girls would pretend they’d be angry, turn away from the offender unless he said he was sorry and gave her a puppy dog smile. In that case she giggled and huddled with her group of friends to be chased again a few minutes later. I think it still means the same if you’re in elementary school.
Cascarones are so popular that the designs have metamorphosised to a high art. And so has the price. Here’s some from last year that I couldn’t bear to smash on someone’s head.
|Mermaid or Sirena cascaron-alvaradofrazier.com|
It’s a fun project to make your own cascarones and you can find loads of recipes. Here’s an awesome set of cascarones for wrestling fans from The Crafty Chica. The site also has the simple dyed eggs, some cool ‘pop’ icons, and a video instruction.
If you haven’t made cascarones before, start a holiday tradition. Just be gentle when you smash them on someone. And run quickly.