Cascarones are a traditional folk art in the southwestern United States. They are basically eggs that have been emptied of their contents, filled with confetti (flour for the more dervishly inclined) and decorated in various manners. Some are painted with gouache similar to tempora. When dry the colors are lighter and have a matte like finish. They are closed again with a small square of tissue paper pasted over the opening and sometimes may have small toy prizes or sweets inside.

Historians believe that Marco Polo bought cascarones from Asia where they may have originated from China. During the romantic Renaissance days Italian gentlemen filled emptied eggshells with perfume or cologne and tossed them to women as a sign of affection. From Italy they spread to Spain where the wife of Maximillian, Empress Carlotta was so delighted with these perfume powder filled eggs she brought them across the ocean to Mexico during her husband’s reign in the middle 1800’s. By the end of the century stories from the Carnaval (or Mardi Gras) in Mazatlan made references to the papaqui or simulated battles in which rival labor groups pelted one another with cascarones, thereby setting the tone for the unconstrained Farewell to Flesh festivities. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they were a feature of dances, and young men and women would buy them to break over each other’s heads as a playful courtship ritual.

In Mexico they were became cascarones from the word cascara meaning shell. The egg as a universal symbol of birth and resurrection, employed in burial practices of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and eventually adopted by Christians in the second century in conjunction with the celebration of Easter. Cascarones, also called amores or gasajos, became a part of the religious traditions at Eastertide in Mexico and the southwestern United States as representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The breaking of the shell is symbolic the resurrection like a newborn chick opens it shell. Practiced as a family tradition today it's believed that the colorful confetti shower brings luck and good fortune to those to whom an egg is broken over their head along with a wish and a good rubbing the confetti into the hair of the victim!

Here in Arizona these colorful eggs have become more ornate. The painted and confetti filled egg is placed on the end of a cone made out of rolled up newspaper, then decorated with crepe paper in a piñata like fashion along with streamers made out of curled ribbons. Now there's even more room in the cone to fill with confetti, sweets, toys or even birdseed for the more environmentally friendly festivities. Some have become so elaborate so as to be fashioned into figures and can take on themes applied to other times of year such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, 4th of July, New Years, and Valentine's Day. These are mostly given as gifts meant as decorations or centerpieces for the Easter Feast at the end of Lent. But-- best of all-- they're sensational for all the reveling and merriment you can imagine at an Easter Egg Hunt!

How to Make Cascarones:

Materials: blown eggs (can be dyed in advanced if desired), glue, newspaper, cones, markers, confetti, scissors, sequins, artificial flowers, tissue paper, glitter, lace, and/or ribbons.

To blow eggs:

    Poke a small hole with a sharp point in both ends of the egg.
    Blow through one end of the egg, depositing the yolk and white in a bowl.
    Gently rinse the eggshells in warm soapy water.

    To decorate:
    Glue a small piece of paper over one end to cover hole. Let dry.
    Pour confetti or desired material in the open end.
    Cover the remaining opening with tape and a small piece of tissue paper.
    Affix cone to egg with glue if desired.

Selected Sources

About Carmen Lomas Garza's Cascarones:
Accessed Apr 05 2001

Accessed Apr 05 2001

Accessed Apr 05 2001

Cascarones: Egging on Mexican Fiestas : html
Accessed Apr 05 2001

The Great Grand E2 Artifact Exchange.

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