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Egg tapping

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Title: Egg tapping  
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Egg tapping

Egg tapping
Players 2
Random chance High (egg durability)
Two boys egg tapping
red wins

Egg tapping, or also known as egg fight, egg knocking, egg pacqueing, egg boxing, egg picking, [1] or egg jarping is a traditional Easter game. In English folk traditions, the game has variously been known as "shackling", "jarping" or "dumping".[2]

The rule of the game is simple. One holds a hard-boiled egg and taps the egg of another participant with one's own egg intending to break the other's, without breaking one's own. As with any other game, it has been a subject of cheating; eggs with cement core, alabaster, and even marble eggs have been reported.[2]


The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

During medieval times, egg tapping was practiced in Europe. For instance, the practice was mentioned to have played an important part in the 14th century in Zagreb in relation to the Easter festival.[3][4] A study of folklore quotes an early 15th-century reference Poland.[2]

In North America, egg picking was observed by a British prisoner of war, Thomas Anbury, in Frederick Town in Maryland in 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. The local custom at that time was to dye the eggs with Logwood or Bloodwood to give them a crimson color which as Anbury observed gave them "great strength". [5] By the mid-20th century, a Baltimore Maryland newspaper, the Evening Sun would devote an editorial column to discussing street cries, ritual, techniques for the game.[6] For days before Easter, boys would call "Hold up!" which was the call to "pick" eggs, crying:

Who got a egg?
Who got a egg?
Who gotter Guineakee?
Who wanter pickawee?
Who pick?
Who pick?
Who gotter egg? [7]


In England, the game is played between pairs of competitors who repeatedly knock the pointed ends of their eggs together until one of the eggs cracks; the overall winner is the one whose egg succeeds in breaking the greatest number of other eggs. The world egg-jarping championships have been held each Easter Sunday at Peterlee Cricket And Social Club County Durham, England, since 1983. Proceeds from the event are donated to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.[8]

In many places in Louisiana, egg-tapping is a serious competition event. Marksville claims to be the first to make it into an official event in 1956. In the past some cheaters used guinea hen eggs, which are smaller and have harder shells. Nowadays guinea egg knocking is a separate contest category. Preparation for this contest has turned into a serious science. People now know which breeds of chicken lay harder eggs and at what time. The chickens must be fed with calcium-rich food and have plenty of exercise. Proper boiling of the contest eggs is also a serious issue. Some rules are well known, such as eggs must be boiled tip down, so that the air pocket is on the butt end. There is also the rule that the champion must break and eat their eggs to prove they are not a fake.[9][10]

In other cultures and languages

In Assam (a state of India in which the easternmost indigenous Indo-European language is spoken) the game is called Koni-juj (Koni = Egg; Juj = Fight). It is held every year on the day of Goru Bihu (the cattle day) of Rongali Bihu, which falls in mid-April and on the day of Bhogali Bihu, in January.

In Serbia, both coloured eggs and uncoloured Easter eggs are used as everyone picks an egg to tap or have tapped; every egg is used until the last person with the unbroken egg is declared the winner, sometimes winning a money pool.

In the Netherlands the game is called eiertikken. Children line up with baskets of coloured eggs and try to break those in another person’s basket. But players must only break ones of the same colour as their own.[11]

In Romania, visitors strike red eggs against one held by the head of the household and exchange the greetings "Christ has risen!" and "He has risen indeed!" The person who keeps an unbroken egg is said to enjoy the longest life.[11]

Christians in Bulgaria have a similar custom and may believe that the winner of the egg tapping contest will have the most health until the next Easter. The first painted, red egg may be preserved until the next year as a token of luck and good health.[12][13][14]

Central European Catholics of various nationalities call the tradition epper, likely from the German word Opfer, also used to name the practice, which means 'sacrifice' or, literally, offering.[15]

Ruthenians have a tradition of rolling the eggs in a game called čokatisja. Children roll eggs on the meadows like marbles or tap them by hand. If an egg is cracked, then it belongs to the child whose egg cracked it.[16]

Greeks call the practice tsougrisma (τσούγκρισμα), meaning to clink together.[17][18]

In Jewish culture hard-boiled eggs are part of the Passover Seder celebration. Toward the end of the traditional readings, hard-boiled eggs are distributed among guests, who may then play the egg-tapping game.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Venetia Newall (1971) An Egg at Easter: A Folklore Study, p. 344
  3. ^ Hrvatski informativni centar: Uskrs u Hrvata "U starom Zagrebu i njegovoj okolici tucanje jajima upozoravalo je na Uskrs kao prijelomnicu u vremenu pa su tim događajem označavali i vrijeme, bilježeći u dokumentima u 14. stoljeću da se nešto dogodilo "poslije tucanja jaja", tj. poslije Uskrsa."
  4. ^ Hrvatski uskrsni obicaji: Tucanje jaja, ukrasavanje pisanica i paljenje vuzmice: U nekim tekstovima se navodi da se "tucanje jajima" spominje još u 14. stoljeću u starom Zagrebu i okolici, no prakticira se gotovo u svim dijelovima Hrvatske.
  5. ^
    Thomas Anbury was young British officer who traveld extensively as a prisoner-of-war during the American Revolution. Anbury was near Frederick Town in Maryland, July 11, 1781, when he noted the egg picking custom which was prevalent at that time. (Anbury,"Travels through the Interior Parts of America"(London, 1789) Vol. II, at pp. 500-1) as quoted in the Maryland Historical Magazine article.
    Anbury's book was also published in France, see Ceinture fléchée
  6. ^
    Clarkson cites the Baltimore Evening Sun for 29 March 1933 (editorial page),and in the Sunday Sun for 17 April 1949 (brown section).
  7. ^ Cited by Clarkson in their article, see above.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Egg tapping elevated to a high art in Acadiana" by Judy Stanford, Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, Louisiana, April 4, 1999 ([1])
  10. ^ "If Your Eggs Are Cracked, Please Step Down: Easter Egg Knocking in Marksville", by Sheri Lane Dunbar, Ph.D. (anthropology), first published in the 1989 Louisiana Folklife Festival booklet
  11. ^ a b see
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3]
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ Pittsburgh Post Gazette Storytelling: About those knocking Easter eggs March 13, 2009
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "The word tsougrisma means "clinking together" or "clashing." In Greek: τσούγκρισμα, pronounced TSOO-grees-mah."
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