Dr. Cascarón or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Eggshell

Dr. Cascarón or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Eggshell

These colorful Guatemalan eggshells filled with confetti are known as cascarones and are the sure sign that marks the arrival of carvinal and then Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de ceniza), which is the first day of Lent (Cuaresma) which in 2009 will be celebrated on February 25th. That’s right folks, on Wednesday 25th we will begin the count down to The World Famous Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala, top city travel destination.

First World versus Third World Aside: Much of what I am today and the decisions I made that took me to La Antigua Guatemala were inspired or influenced in part by Milan Kundera’s writings. Through the reading of several of Milan Kundera‘s novels, especially Life is Elsewhere, Laughable Loves, The Farewell Party, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Immortality and Identity, I begun to question my life, lifestyle and what I wanted out of the day. Life is a jigsaw puzzle made up from instants (seconds) and where and with whom you spend those moments shapes the picture you see at the end. Honestly, I do not know if it is better to live in the ‘first world’ with a first-world salary, first-world commodities and such or to live here in the south or third world with all the complications and dangers that decision entails. I don’t know about the first/third world euphemisms either. However, I do know that a different life or lifestyle is possible outside the safety net. There are other ways to be human and to experience unusual traditions and celebrations. There is a huge difference between Spring Break, Easter, Holy Week and Semana Santa as we live it in La Antigua Guatemala for sure. To each its own. For the moment, I’m just happy to be able to take ordinary snapshots from my daily comings-and-goings and to be able to share them with YOU! I hope you enjoy them too. 🙁

@Manolo, gracias por la llamada de atención.

© 2009 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Muy buena esta tradición que se tiene en Guatemala. Recuero cuando jugaba el quebrar cascarones con los de la escuela, eran buenos tiempos.

    Espero que no desaparezca esta tradición porque es muy emblemática para Guatemala.

    PD: Ahora si estoy actualizado con los blogs chapines y redes sociales, ya que en la reunión de bloggers del año pasado estaba en la luna en algunas cuestiones porque estuve inactivo como medio año.

    Saludos.

  • MaggieD

    first world/third world: even “first” worlds have complications and dangers, and we in N.America see now how quickly the wealth can fade! The most important thing is not to live where it’s ‘better’ but to be where one is supposed to be and that can only be determined within one’s spirit, soul, or comfort zone (whatever you want to call it) and to appreciate being there in every single moment. As you said, it’s all about how well one shapes their own picture. On a different note – I am thankful for my visits to less fortunate countries, because I learned how to economize, conserve, “make do”, and often do “without” – a skill that is coming in handy while N.America goes through this economic crisis.

  • Erika

    Cascarones, cascarones, cascarones.. Me traen tan lindos recuerdos jugando con mis primos, dichosos mis Padres que estan en Guate ahorita y van a poder disfrutar el carnaval, me contaron que se hiban para Rabinal (pueblo natal de mi papa). Rudy gracias por estas fotos, cada dia entro a tu sitio a ver que fotos posteaste.

  • Stephanie

    These eggs are amazing! What kind of dye is used to get such vibrant colors? How is the confetti put in? Are the insides of the eggs blown out, then they are dyed, and then the confetti put in? Is that tissue paper I see covering the open hole of the egg on the end? How are the eggs used after they are dyed and the confetti added?

  • Oh, Semana Santa…either in Antigua or in la capital is such an extraordinary time; there’s such a sensory overload every day there’s something new yet familiar 🙂
    @ Stephanie, Rudy had already posted about cascarones and there’s more info about them here:
    http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2008/01/31/guatemalan-carnival-cascarones/#comments
    http://antiguadailyphoto.com/2008/02/01/guatemalan-carnival-cascarones-for-25-centavos/#comments

  • @Stephanie, I believe Manolo gave the best and more concise explanation last year. Here is explanation to another reader:

    Cascarones are literally egg shells. So, as some have said, weeks in advance every egg cooked at home is carefully cracked so that most of the shape of the egg is kept intact and left to dry. Then, before Carnival Tuesday (the day previous Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent) the empty egg shells are filled with confetti (mainly very little pieces of tissue paper, but sometimes metallic paper and in olden times flour), and then are sealed with a piece of tissue paper and glue. I guess it depends on each person, but the egg shells are decorated before or after being filled using watercolours or tempera (some sort of finger paint) or even markers. Not quite like Easter Eggs because they mark the beginning of Lent, not the end of it, and they have no actual egg inside.

    What do we do with cascarones? Well, young people (i.e. children and/or children at heart) smash them on the heads of unsuspected victims. Since there is usually a costume party involved with Carnival you don’t know who your victimizer is. The confetti gets inside the back of your shirt along with pieces of egg shell and your hair is also a mess (particularly if you have curly hair). Is the last day you are allowed to be a brat before the 40 days of behaving start.

  • Manolo

    Pues I have learned something new since last year, “carnival Tuesday” is “Fat Tuesday”/”Mardi Gras”. Carnival comes from “Carne” (flesh/meat) and it is called that way because it is the last day you can eat meat before lent.

    @Rudy: No problem, you know, in my previous life I was Jimmy Cricket.

  • Claudia

    Love carnaval. My mom would start saving eggshells weeks in advance and she would dry them out, we would usually decorate them ourselves in school. I used to get blisters on my fingers from the scissors since we tried to make our confetti as small and tiny as possible, to make it harder to wash out of your hair, of course.

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