It is said that Belgian-born Empress Carlota introduced what would become a popular Carnival custom to Mexico. In Europe, the eggshells had been filled with perfume rather than confetti and had been used in courtship.
Though brightly colored eggs remain a traditional Easter element in many countries, they do not figure prominently into the celebration of Pascua (Easter), one of Mexico's most important and solemn religious holidays. Curiously, however, eggs--in the guise of cascarones-- are a popular feature of Carnaval (Mardi Gras), which marks the opposite end of the Easter season, as well as a variety of other Mexican festivities.
In their most common form, cascarones are empty egg shells that have been washed out, painted on the exterior, filled with confetti and closed again with a small square of tissue paper pasted over the opening. They may sometimes contain small toy prizes or sweets as well. Early variations, connected with the customarily riotous pre-Lenten celebrations, were filled with either perfumed or rank-smelling colored water and sealed with a plug of wax.
Cascarones figure heavily into local fiestas in towns and cities all over the nation, as fellow revelers enjoy playfully cracking the eggs over one another's heads, unleashing showers of confetti that help heighten the sense of merriment. The practice has long been favored among adolescents who still may be observed engaging in this innocent form of flirtation with members of the opposite sex during Sunday evening paseos around village plazas. (Read full article)