The History Of Cajun Easter ‘Egg Pocking’ Or ‘Egg Pacque’
It's commonly thought, at least around here in Louisiana, that Cajuns are the only ones who pock eggs at Easter. The game, however, has been around for many centuries. When I was a kid, my older brother Greg was the egg pocking, or egg knocking as we called it, champion of our family for about 12 years... until we discovered he had a marble egg.
According to Suite101.com, the most common suggestion as to the origin of this game is with the Greeks. They call the game "Tsougrisma" meaning "clinking together" or "clashing." Greek tradition uses hard-boiled eggs, dyed red, and involves two players. While the Greek version holds no real rule book, other European versions have some specific rules. In Lebanon, the egg is chosen very carefully. Then the players decide how the egg will be held and how much of the shell will be shown. Once those rules are established, they clink the ends of the eggs together just as the Greeks do. If both of the ends are cracked, that person is the loser.
The Netherlands calls this game Eiertikken; Germany declares it Ostereiertitschen. Croatians describe it as the egg fight or tuca. In Northern England an egg-jarping competition is held and the loser has to eat their eggs. Oddly enough, the United States has adapted a similar version. Prevalent in the south of the country, pocking eggs is similar to the egg cracking tradition in Europe, but where the winner is the one to eat the eggs of the losers.
But what significance does this game have at Easter? For pre-Christians the egg had always been a symbol of rebirth during the spring celebrations of the goddess, such as the goddess Eostre. Later adopted by Christianity, mainly that of the Eastern Orthodoxy, the egg became a symbol of the resurrection of the savior Jesus Christ. The red dyed eggs the Greeks use represent the blood shed by Christ at the crucifixion; therefore, the cracking of the egg portrays his resurrection from the dead.
Many families spend a lot of time dyeing and decorating the eggs for the game--some eggs are simple or even plain, while others can be very elaborate. The cracking of eggs at Easter will continue to be practiced among many families in all parts of the world. No matter the origin, the game brings people of many cultures together for the celebration of new life and beginnings.