We’re in the middle of a Kickstarter for our Tiny Games App (BACK US, IT WILL BE AMAZING), and it’s Easter weekend, so we were going to design some Tiny Games for Easter – but when we began coming up with ideas, we kept getting distracted by all the quick, fun, silly, gorgeous Easter games that already exist. So instead, here’s some Easter games in the spirit of the Tiny Games project, but with a lineage that’s sometimes hundreds of years old – and a lot more eggs.
Some of them are great, some of them are weird, some of them are spectacular, one of them even involves waiting for a church bell to toll – and if you read nothing else in this post, at least scroll down to the amazing Egg Dancing. Easter seems to be a festival that brings out the play in people; take egg-rolling, for example.
There are loads of different egg-rolling games, but they all start from one key element: a big pile of hard-boiled eggs that the players have decorated in bright colours.
Once you’ve got your decorated eggs, there’s the classic roll your egg until it breaks. Everyone gets an egg; you go up a hill; you roll your egg down. If it breaks, you’re out. If it doesn’t, you pick it up and go back up and roll it down again. Last player left in wins.
Picture by gazeronly
Or there’s the Lithuanian version, which is like a mix of marbles and bocce, but with eggs. Marbocceggs, as it were. You make a track you can roll your egg down, and prop it up against a log or a fireplace. Then you take turns to roll eggs down the teack, and see where they come to a stop. If your egg hits another egg during its roll, you get the egg it hit – and the player with the most eggs at the end wins. There are some videos here, if you fancy seeing it in action.
And of course there’s Egg Roll Racing – everything from “roll the eggs down the hill – the one that reaches the bottom fastest without cracking is the winner” to the White-House-style Egg Roll, where you push the eggs along a flat lawn with a big spoon.
You’ve probably noticed that there’s a pretty consistent theme here, and it’s “don’t break your egg”. A crack in your egg is a fundamental egg-game lose condition. Some games are all about the breaking, in fact:
There’s Egg Jarping, where you hold a boiled egg and find an opponent; you and they hit the ends of your eggs together, and if your egg survives you take it on to battle a new opponent.
And there’s Egg Tossing, where you’re in a two-player team, competing against other teams. You throw an egg back and forth with your teammate, taking a step back each time you catch it. If your egg breaks, you’re out; the last team left in wins.
Spectacular Egg Games
Or there’s some games that are just amazing to watch, like Egg Dancing. This is a simple one – you put a pile of hard-boiled eggs on the floor and you dance around, trying to do the most impressive dance you can while breaking the fewest eggs. The picture above is from 1552, showing a variation (you try to flip a wooden bowl to cover an egg, again – obviously – while dancing). The wikipedia article on egg-dancing is a great read, with this 1860s story of Egg Dancing as performed by ballet dancers at Sadlers Wells:
This performance was common enough about thirty years back and was well received at Sadler’s Wells; where I saw it exhibited, not by simply hopping round a single egg, but in a manner that much increased the difficulty. A number of eggs, I do not precisely recollect how many, but I believe about twelve or fourteen, were placed at certain distances marked upon the stage; the dancer, taking his stand, was blind-folded, and a hornpipe being played in the orchestra, he went through all the paces and figures of the dance, passing backwards and forwards between the eggs without touching them.
Picture by hollybygolly
And there’s games played with Cascarones, where – for a change – breaking the egg is the desired outcome, not something you need to avoid at all costs. Gorgeous dyed eggs are blown and stuffed with confetti or feathers – and then people try to break them over each other’s heads, bursting the confetti onto the world, whether by agreement or sneaking or chasing or throwing. It’s probably the most beautiful egg game, and it’s one where breaking your egg is a triumph rather than a disaster.
Or there’s the kinda strange Choirboy Egg Game, allegedly an old British tradition in which a boiled egg would be thrown around the church by choirboys – whichever boy was holding the egg when the clock struck twelve would get to eat it.
And the good old Easter Egg Hunt
And then – of course – there’s the good old Easter Egg Hunt, which in Australia and the UK always involves chocolate eggs, but in the US is often about some more hard-boiled decorated eggs, which is strangely less appealing to me. But there’s so much to say about easter egg hunts – and Tiny Game-style variations you can make – that that’s going to have to wait for another time.