We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the food until we had washed our cheeks with… one red egg for health, a white one for purity of heart, and a coin for a little wealth. Every spiritual endeavour will have its practical side I suppose.
Grandpa would’ve spent the night in church to bring back blessed treats, and these were without fail the first to be tasted after the “battle of the eggs” was done and dusted. No-No. Not the chocolate kind. These were the real thing, painted the previous day under grandma’s close supervision. We were allowed to pick patterns to add to the shell: usually a parsley leaf cottoned on to its side, or a candle wax design which left an imprint once the egg had its baptism in the die.
Red eggs, blue eggs, green and yellow, even brownish ones and some determinately drunk-burgundy ones made their way to the table: a fashion show of custom-made edible Fabergés. However, we did not discriminate on the basis of colour in choosing our “competitor.” Size matterred, as did the pointiness of the egg; no one wanted to be stuck with Humpty Dumpty types.
For those unfamiliar with it, the “battle of the eggs” is the Easter equivalent of conkers with no strings attached. The best eggs are hard-boiled and pointy. Each player takes turns hitting the point of the opponent’s egg with their own, and the egg that makes it to the end of the round un-cracked is declared victorious. Its owner may allow it to live another day (or at least until it is challenged to another battle).
I rather miss that. Trying to crack a chocolate egg is nowhere near as fun. With hindsight, the original game did not have quite the gladiatorial setup I attributed to it as a child, but then again… for all eggs involved, they were the real “hunger games.”