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Family keeps tradition of cascarones alive (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 30, 2013 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2013 at 10:30 p.m.


DID YOU KNOW?

Breaking a cascaron on someone's head is supposed to bring good luck.

Cascarones are common in the southwest because of Mexico's proximity and influence.

Cascaron, or cascara, means "egg shell" in Spanish.

Cascarones can also be made as keepsakes to display.

PORT LAVACA - With a determined swing, Mary Carmen Zavala smashed a colorful, newly painted cascaron on granddaughter Jasmine Gordon's head.

"Oh my God, there's confetti everywhere," Gordon, 30, squealed, pulling rainbow-colored circles from her long, brown strands of hair. "I think (Grandma) held back a little this time."

The women prepared three dozen cascarones to be hidden and smashed Easter Sunday, so one or two eggs can be sacrificed a few days early for some pre-Easter laughs, they said.

"You can hear them crack on your head, and it's so loud," said Gordon, of Port Lavaca. "We'll usually chase each other around with them and get confetti all over the place."

For the past three decades, the women have made a tradition of getting together a few days before Easter and crafting cascarones in preparation for the holiday.

Cascarones, or decorated, confetti-filled eggs, are popular among Hispanic families and are used during various celebrations throughout the year, such as birthdays, weddings and Cinco de Mayo.

The yolks are drained from the eggs, and the shells are painted, decorated and stuffed with confetti.

Zavala, 78, has been making the eggs since she was 8 years old. The glitter and confetti contents have advanced since her childhood years in Mexico, Zavala said. The eggs are also store-bought rather than collected from a hen house on her property. Otherwise, the tradition hasn't changed.

She even uses a traditional flour and water paste for decorating the eggs rather than purchasing store-bought glue to adhere the decoration to the eggs.

"It's better than glue, very sticky," she said, punctuating each word in an obvious Spanish-English accent. "I've been making these since I was a girl. I do it myself; nobody help me."

Gordon explained her grandmother was the oldest of six children when she was growing up in Mexico, so she was responsible for preparing the cascarones each year for Easter.

When she had her own children, she passed along the tradition. And when she became a grandmother, she decided to teach her grandchildren how to make the colorful eggs.

"It's really just a great time to spend together," Gordon said. "We're older now; there's no small children. But we enjoy it. I'm 30, and I like making eggs."

Gordon commented that while the tradition remains strong in her family, it may be fading in future generations.

"I want to say that not many families are doing this so much anymore because it's so easy to go buy them at the store," Gordon said.

But it's a tradition neither of the women will give up as long as they have craft supplies and an open afternoon to paint.

"It's a special tradition. It's nice to sit down and do something a little different ... and it feels like it's a unique tradition," Gordon said. "I like that this is what we do. And it's cool telling people about it."

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