Colorful Eggshells for the Guatemalan Carnival

Colorful Eggshells for the Guatemalan Carnival by Rudy A. Girón

As published last year, these colorful Guatemalan cascarones [eggshells] filled with confetti are known as cascarones de carnaval [carnival] and they mark the arrival of carnaval and then Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de ceniza), which is the first day of Lent (Cuaresma). That’s right folks, on Wednesday we will begin the count down to The World Famous Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala, top city travel destination.

I believe the best way to explain cascarones, carnaval (carnival) and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is to quote some of the AntiguaDailyPhoto readers.

Manolo:
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.

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.

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.

Sompopo:
Head smashing fun. 🙂

Carmen:
Oh my! I’m getting flashbacks. We used to run after each other at school with these cascarones as ammunition. Of course, with all the commotion, we were also responsible for cleaning up afterward. I got such joy from smashing a cascaron on someone’s head. Heehee. The fun was not the same when someone smashed a cascaron on my head though. I remember some of the teachers got into the action as well.

Javier:
Wow!!!Memories!!!Cascarones haven’t seen those in 26 years. We use to make them ourselves as kids. And smash them on other kids heads. It was great.

Elvia:
I remember when I was a child, my mother, sisters and I would start saving the egg shells around 3 months in advance, we would wash them gently and let them dry. It was so much fun to paint each cascaron and put pica pica inside… I remember one of my best carnavales I was probably 7 and I was dressed as strawberry shortcake, it was just awesome my mother sew the costume for me. The carnival season is a very nice tradition in my country of origin, my linda Guatemala!

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