At the pagan new year festivals many games were played with eggs, and some of them still survive.
Hyde, in his Oriental Sports, says:
“The sport consists in striking their eggs one against another, and the egg that breaks is won by the owner of the one that struck it, and so on.”
The Romans had egg-games at their new year, in honor of Castor and Pollux, who were supposed to have come from an egg. These consisted of races in an egg-shaped ring, with eggs for prizes.
An old Saxon chronicle tells of an egg tournament. At suitable distances, in a circle, were placed twelve short poles, and on top of each an egg. Around this, at full speed, ran the youths armed with blunt lances. The one breaking the most eggs was declared victor. Later, eggs grew too valuable to be wasted, and a similar game was played with wooden rings or balls.
In this country there has of late been a revival of some of these games with other quaint Easter customs.
Many children in days past have matched their eggs or rolled them over the green grass lots in the grounds of the White House at Washington.
Probably the Easter eggs were first boiled hard for greater safety in these games of matching.
At a Paas festival once held in the studio of a New York artist, colored eggs were hung by ribbons from a pussy willow-tree, while quaint little damsels distributed fresh eggs as well as those made of confectionery, from their dainty baskets.
Near Easter time at children’s parties the little ones may be sent birds nesting through the rooms, where the nests are placed in all possible corners, some tucked in bushes or small trees. The nests must be well filled with candy eggs or the real article decorated, and the children must hunt till each finds a nest with his or her own name on it.
Travelers in Mexico give accounts of an egg game and dance existing there.
The eggs are prepared by first emptying the shells, then refilling them with fine-chopped colored paper, tinsel, mica and sachet powder. The holes are then pasted over with a bit of paper, and the outside is gayly decorated.
In the more prosperous days of Spanish sway, grandees often had the shells filled with gold dust and precious stones. Those times are past, but occasionally small trinkets, coins and candies are mingled. Several dozen are needed by each participant in the cascarone.
A stranger is at first often startled by having one of these fragile treasure chests broken over his head by a senorita to whom he has not been introduced; but former acquaintance is not considered essential. It is a great compliment to the recipient of the blow, who must return the favor at the first opportunity.
Thrifty matrons intending to give such a ball save all the shells of eggs used in the household and spend their leisure hours in rilling and decorating them.
Source: The young folk’s cyclopædia of games and sports. Denison Champlin & Bostwick, 1890