A Cajun Easter Tradition
Now in April, 2020 the coronavirus pandemic is keeping us from celebrating in the same ways with all of our loved ones this Easter. Here’s an essay I wrote awhile back about one of my favorite family traditions. Y’all be safe and sane!
Chubby fingers clutch a pale pink and green boiled egg. Concerned eyes flick back and forth from the egg to the bowed head of the chubby-fingered 4-year-old girl’s 8-year-old brother, a boy with destruction in his eyes. The boy firmly holds a bright blue egg, and as he quickly raises his egg a few inches above his sister’s egg, the girl muffles a scared squeak as the brother aims and delivers a decisive blow to his target. POCK! “Ah-ha!” the destructor declares as he witnesses the broken crown of his sister’s special Easter egg (the one that took her a full 6 minutes to dye because she patiently dyed the pink half before carefully turning her egg over and holding it in the green dye for several long minutes). The girl juts out a “boudin lip,” yet she dutifully hands her victor brother the cracked egg. “My egg’s the champion!” brags the boy as he tosses the pink and green egg into an overflowing basket of slightly cracked Easter eggs. He struts around the grassy backyard holding the blue egg over his head. Other kids in church clothes throw sideways glances his way, but his sister simply reaches for a Goldbrick egg in her Easter basket to ease the loss of her two-toned egg. MaMa Joe tells her cocky grandson, “Way to go, cha! You beat your cousins!” but PaPa Joe sulks in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the purple guinea egg which he refused to give up to his grandson a few minutes earlier.
For now 8-year-old Claude Emile revels in his Pock-Pock Championship for an Easter in Ville Platte, Louisiana.
Such is the way in Cajun land on Easter morning. Friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas and competitive grandpas compete with their multi-colored boiled eggs to win the title of Pock-Pock Champion on a bright spring day.
Our family’s Pock-Pock Rules:
- Two folks each choose an unbroken Easter egg.
- One person holds his/her egg with the fat side up and faces the opponent.
- The opponent holds his/her egg with the small end towards the other egg.
- The egg-holder on top taps the other’s egg until one of the eggs cracks. (Most folks prefer a soft, slow tapping motion that makes a “pock-pock” sound and that keeps the game going longer. * Emile’s quick, hard hammer-like hit irks me).
- After a few pocks, both folks will hear a deeper sort of cracking sound that signals the breaking of one egg. They pause at this point and examine their eggs’ ends; however, sometimes the crack is not visible and a few more pocks are needed to reveal the definitive cracks that label one of the egg-holders a loser.
- The holder of the uncracked egg is that round’s winner and he/she gets to keep the broken egg. (Unless you’ve pocked-pocked with Papa Joe and his favorite egg)
My momma learned from her dad (Papa Joe) that guinea and duck eggs were harder than regular chicken eggs, but this was not always the case. Cajuns can be very competitive (even when the prize is a grubby boiled egg), and some have resorted to cheating. One Easter Emile made a plaster of Paris egg and painted it yellow. He managed to trick the younger cousins and the older relatives with poor eyesight, but when cousin Kenneth discovered the trick, the final pock-pock sounds came from Kenneth whacking Emile’s “tete dure.”
I have always enjoyed this Cajun tradition, and even though Emile’s grandkids don’t particularly like or even want to keep boiled Easter eggs (They prefer the plastic eggs filled with jellybeans or chocolates), the kids still enjoy the pock-pock competition. This Easter I look forward to spitfire Amos (age 5) going up against his calm cousin Evan (age 24) and may the best egg win!