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Monday, April 9, 2018

Fun With Easter Eggs: Tapping, Shackling, Dancing

I had such fun Easter Sunday watching the kids running around our outdoor chapel area hunting for Easter eggs. So, of course, I had to begin hunting for what games my characters might have enjoyed on Easter Sunday—or any other Sunday in the 1800s, for that matter. Imagine my surprise when, besides the normal egg hunting, I discovered egg tapping, egg shackling and egg dancing. 


Egg Tapping

The rules are simple: pick an egg, face your opponent and tap eggs until one breaks. The person with the unbroken egg wins and moves to the next players. The egg still intact at the end is the winner. A single elimination tournament with no age limit and guaranteed laughs.

Egg Shackling

In the Victorian Era, egg shackling was a favorite game. It’s origins go back to medieval days. Children wrote their names on an egg and put it in a basket with all the others. The basket was shaken until all eggs cracked. The last egg to crack or remain intact was the winner.

The Egg Dance

The egg dance or the hop-egg, is a dance done in small, hopping steps through a minefield of boiled eggs. Blindfolded. If you manage to do the dance without breaking an egg, there will be chocolate! Since the Saxon word hoppe means “to dance,” hopping was probably brought to England from Germany by the Saxons as early as the 5th century.

In my latest release, WILD TEXAS HEARTS, the heroine, Lizzie, is caught teaching the hero’s young son poque, or poker.

“Remember, the ace can be a high card or a low card. Depends on where you need it.”
Calvin laid his two cards down, counted on his fingers, and picked them back up to be sure he saw them right. “If I have it as my high one, that counts eleven, right?” His lips moved as he recounted his hand. “That’s too many. I think.”
“Then count it as one point and ask for another card. You want to get close to twenty-one, but not go over. Remember, though.” She hesitated before dealing. “If you have more than fifteen points, another card will probably be too many.”
Calvin huffed in frustration. “I don’t understand.”
“Didn’t I tell you studying your figures in school was important?” Lizzie folded her own cards and set them aside. “Let’s have a look at what you have. We won’t count this hand.”
Calvin turned over a black jack, followed by an ace of hearts.
A shiver ran her spine at the reminder of her attacker. “That’s twenty-one. You would have won, boy.” Lizzie learned across the table and slapped his shoulder.
“Durn it!” Cal shoved his chin forward in a pout. “We didn’t count that one.”
“That’s all right. We’ll just deal again.” She gathered the cards and started to shuffle. “We’re just practicing anyway.”
“But if I win, you’re gathering the eggs tomorrow, right?”
Lizzie laughed at the hope in his eyes. “And if you lose, you wash and dry the dishes all day.”
Cal straightened in his seat. “I’m gonna win this time.”
“Don’t count on it, swabbie. I’m pretty good at this poque stuff, too.”
“What’s poque?” Cal picked up his cards, one at a time, and started adding, his lips forming the numbers so clearly Lizzie didn’t even have to see her hand to bet.
“It’s a fancy French term for poker. At least, that’s what the sailor told me when he taught me to play.” She laid the homemade deck of cards aside and glanced at the two she’d dealt herself.
“Those sailors sure taught you lots of stuff.”
“There wasn’t much else to do once my chores were done. Or when the wind quit blowing. What you gonna do?”
“I’ll take…uh…one more. I think.”
She bit back a chuckle and dealt Cal another card. “I’ll hold on these. Show your hand.”
Cal turned over a king, a ten, and seven.
“Twenty-seven is six too many.” She flipped over her hand. “Nineteen for the dealer. I win and you have to wash the supper dishes.”

A broken man…
Revenge has driven Wolf Richards since the brutal murders of his wife and young daughter. Returning home with his son, Cal, he faces memories and loss at every turn. Raising Cal alone seems to be more of a challenge than he can handle. He can never replace his perfect Emily—until a rough-edged female falls into his arms—and living becomes a new adventure.

An unlikely woman…
Lizzie Sutter is as rough as a cowboy and as compelling as a stormy sky. Dressing as a man allows her to hire on with a cattle drive, only to be discovered and set adrift near Civil, Texas. When she stumbles onto an abandoned cabin, she makes herself at home. Then the owner of her newfound home shows up and Lizzie discovers just what’s missing from her life—and her heart.

Two wild hearts tamed…
Lizzie hasn’t a feminine thing about her, yet she calls to something deep inside Wolf, something he can’t deny. Being a woman has always left her feeling lacking, until he shows her their WILD TEXAS HEARTS belong together…


  1. Oh my, egg hopping sounds so interesting, and a lot of fun. As for playing poker, well that sounds like fun too.

    Fun post and even better excerpt. Doris

  2. Doris, you can search it and a couple of videos come up. It is interesting. Very stylized and rather amazing.

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

  3. Tracy, this is really interesting! I remember a game from a lonnnnng time back where it was a relay and you put the handle of a spoon in your mouth with an egg in the spoon, and you had to transfer the egg to the next person's spoon without dropping it (of course the eggs were boiled to prevent a huge mess!) LOL Don't you just wonder who comes up with the ideas for these games? LOL

    1. I remember that, Cheryl! I wasn't any good at it. I keep thinking--boil the eggs and as they break the kid gets lunch. Not sure I'd want to win. lol

  4. Tracy,
    What a fun post and I enjoyed the excerpt!

  5. Tracy, I so enjoyed your blog about the history of the egg games. Some minds are just so creative to make up games and I indeed love playing them. I read Wild Texas Hearts and couldn't put it down. Loved it as it thoroughly warmed my heart.

    1. Bev, you just made my day! I'm so glad you enjoyed WTH. I knew Lizzie was Wolf's from the moment she introduced herself.

  6. Tracy,
    I shuddered a little at the memories this article brought back. 😉 I was that kid who would do just about anything to avoid participating in social games. Wait—-I still don’t play group games. 🤣 Nonetheless, I enjoyed your article, and especially learning about the egg dance. Adding to Cheryl’s comment, I remember an egg game done on horseback in which riders carried a raw egg in the bowl of a large spoon and the goal was to race to a point and back then transfer the egg to your waiting teammate (like passing a baton), who then took off. You could go as fast as you wanted, but if you dropped your egg, your team was disqualified.

    I’ve also read this story, and I enjoyed seeing how Lizzie’s “feminine side” evolved. 😁

  7. I didn't know until now how the word "hopping" came in to being. I do recall egg rolling races where the kids would push an egg with their noses and get to the finish line first. Also, I remember a little more grown up game where couples danced with an egg to their throats which, of course, caused a bunch of embarrassment due to the closeness of the situation. If the couple dropped the egg they were eliminated. The last couple with an egg won. Picture a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds doing that.
    This was a fun blog, Tracy. Who knew eggs could be such fun?