Imagine the laughter of children at play, families gathered together, the enticing aroma of traditional Mexican cuisine, and the vibrant sounds of mariachi music filling the air. Amidst the festivities, elaborately decorated eggshells filled with confetti are playfully smashed atop heads, showering friends and loved ones with color and good fortune.
Welcome to the world of cascarones, a delightful Mexican tradition. This weekend, Woodmere Art Museum offers you and your children a chance to come and learn how to enjoy it.
In celebration of Mother's Day, artist Marta Sanchez brings this tradition to Woodmere. Children will have the chance to create their own cascarones by decorating confetti-filled eggshells and partaking in the fun custom of cracking them over the heads of their mothers and others, spreading good fortune.
Cascarones, or "eggshells" in English, are hollowed-out chicken eggs filled with confetti or small toys. This whimsical custom originated in 19th-century Mexico and traces its roots back to Renaissance Italy, where nobles exchanged eggs filled with perfumed powder as gifts.
Traditionally, the preparation of cascarones is a family affair, beginning weeks before the event. Families carefully collect and clean empty eggshells, cracking them to leave a small hole at one end, washing them, and allowing them to dry. Once dried, the shells are painted, filled with confetti or toys, and sealed with colorful tissue paper to complete their transformation into delicate, festive cascarones.
Cascarones are rich in symbolism. The egg represents rebirth, renewal, and fertility, themes closely associated with spring and Easter. In Mexico, breaking the egg over someone's head symbolizes the release of good fortune and blessings. The vibrant colors used to decorate cascarones embody the spirit and energy of Mexican culture. Confetti, often featuring a mix of bold hues, signifies unity, as various colors harmoniously come together. When the egg is broken, the confetti spills out, symbolizing the spreading of good fortune, love, and joy.
Sanchez, the artist behind this experience, is the program coordinator for Brandywine Workshop and Archives and coordinator of education outreach for Artura.org. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, she earned an MFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. With over seventeen years of teaching experience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and St. Joseph’s University, she is also the co-founder of the grassroots organization "Cascarones Por La Vida," which supports families affected by HIV/AIDS. Her artwork is archived at the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.