Cascarones are a Fiesta San Antonio Tradition
Coming to San Antonio for Fiesta? Don't freak out if someone smashes an egg over your head. There's a good chance it will happen. Cascarones are a Fiesta tradition, ubiquitous throughout the 10-day party. Their confetti aftermath is visible inside every place of business and blowing down every street.
What are cascarones?
Cascarones are a cross between an Easter egg and a party favor. They are brightly colored eggshells, either hand-painted or dyed, filled with confetti.
How does the confetti get inside?
A small opening is cut into one end of the eggshell, the egg yolk and egg whites are drained out of the shell, the shell is rinsed out and left to dry, and confetti is then poured into the opening. Typically, tissue paper is used to seal up the end. An alternative is to break the egg in two, and then wrap the eggshell's middle with tissue paper.
Where in Mexico did cascarones originate?
Trick question! Historians place the cascarones' birthplace in China, and trace their introduction to Europe to Marco Polo. The Chinese filled eggshells with perfumed powder to give as gifts. In the mid-19th century, the wife of Emperor Maximillian was so fascinated by the eggs that she brought them to Mexico.
The Mexicans replaced the powder with confetti, and named the eggs cascarones, deriving from "cascara," meaning "shell." Though the fascination with cascarones eventually subsided, South Texans revived the tradition in the late 1960s, and now, throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, they are used in celebrations.
What's the proper way to make use of cascarones?
Crack them over the heads of your friends and loved ones! Though the designs can be quite beautiful, the real fun of cascarones is cracking them over your friends' and loved ones' heads - the confetti shower is said to bring good luck and good fortune, but it's really just an excuse to mess up some hair.
Don't smash the eggshell down onto your victim's scalp - those eggshells can crack into sharp pieces. Instead, break the eggshell in your hand, then either sprinkle the eggshell and its contents over the head of your victim, or rub the confetti into their hair with a quick mussing.
And if someone does it to you, laugh and vow revenge ...
How do I make cascarones?
To drain the eggs, cut a small hole in one end of the egg with a kitchen knife. (Smaller knives work better, and rotating the knife is helpful. Try holding the knife at an angle, pointing upward, with the egg above the point of the knife.)
Once you have empty, dry shells, dye the eggs with diluted food color or commercial egg dye, or use a paintbrush for more precise application. Once that's dry, you can further decorate them with crayons, markers, fingerpaints, glitter, or anything else that looks good. Some will sketch pencil designs on the eggs and layer over them with acrylic paints; others use sponges or feathers to apply paint. Whatever you use, do be gentle — remember, you're handling eggshells.
Once your artwork has dried, it's most effective to get your confetti into the eggs by pouring confetti into a bowl and spooning it in. After you've spooned in the confetti, glue tissue paper to the egg to cover the hole. Once it dries, you're ready for action.
Where can I find cascarones?
If you want to come to Fiesta well-armed with cascarones, you might need to make your own. First try checking with area party stores. Once in San Antonio, you'll have no trouble finding them - they are offered by street vendors and in grocery stores, and you'll stumble across them in many other places.
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