“So, I have a big family on my mother’s [the Mexican] side. So every year, we have an easter basket that looks like a laundry basket, and the people who get to hide the eggs are the ones who have graduated from being little kids. It’s usually around sixteenish, and it’s an unwritten rule that once you turn sixteen you can no longer look for eggs. And then the two oldest boys hide the trick eggs up in trees. But the emphasis is less on it being a practical joke and more about growing up.”
This piece of religious folklore came from a classmate with whom I exchanged lore. She noted that both sides of her family, although ethnically separate, had developed very similar variations on the traditional Easter egg hunt. Both draw a clear age line, separating the ‘children’ from the ‘adults.’ The former naively hunts for plastic eggs, hoping for reward and enjoying the fun of the chase, while the latter, more experienced and understanding, are privy to extra information, enjoying the fun of the hunt vicariously as their labor pays off.
As this religious folk tradition/ritual is also a children’s game, it works like many folk children’s games to help kids explore social structures. By creating a firm distinction between searcher and hider, the child/adult distinction, which is normally rather blurry, is made concrete and tangible for the smaller family members. Although they enjoy hunting for eggs, the can also excitedly anticipate the day when they will graduate into the grown-up world and gain the associated knowledge—be allowed to hide eggs.