The egg’s fragility probably accounts for its popularity in games down through the centuries.
Hiding colored or decorated eggs around the house or garden for youngsters to find has long been an Easter morning tradition. In addition to private-home egg hunts, some organizations and communities hold very large public egg hunts.
Along with a sack race, an egg toss is a popular picnic game. In an egg toss, partners line up in two rows facing each other. Every member on one side tosses a raw egg across. After each successful catch, the players step backward, adding to the difficulty of the next catch. This is repeated until all but one egg is broken. The couple with the last unbroken egg wins.
According to the White House Historical Association, the traditional egg rolling that takes place on the lawn of the White House or Capitol building started in 1878. President and Mrs. Hayes invited children to play at the White House when they were turned away from the Capitol building. Similar events are held in many other locations throughout the country. The United States, however, can’t take credit for inventing the custom. Egg rolling was mentioned in a Latin treatise in 1684.
Many variations of egg rolling contests and games are played. In England and Scotland, children roll eggs downhill and the last child with an unbroken egg is the winner. In another version of egg rolling, the players push the egg to the finish line using only their noses. Very similar are egg races in which the players try to send emptied eggshells across the finish line by fanning them with a piece of cardboard or by blowing them. Since eggs are not round, winning is not as easy as it might seem.
Many countries continue the age-old ritual of egg tapping or egg-shackling. For example, Greeks form a circle and tap scarlet eggs, one against the other. The one finishing with an unbroken egg may claim all the other eggs. (The trick is protecting as much of the egg as possible with your fingers.)
Up until modern times, children in English villages carried on an old sport called pace-egging. The name comes from Pasch, which means Easter in most European countries. This derives from Pesach, the Hebrew Passover which falls at the same time of the year. Similar to Halloween trick-or-treaters, pace-eggers went from house to house in costume or with paper streamers and bright ribbons attached to their clothes. Faces blackened or masked, they sang or performed skits and demanded pace-eggs, either colored hard-boiled eggs or substitutes such as candy and small coins.