Practical Joke with Easter Eggs

“So, every year, on my dad’s [the Armenian] side of the family, we’d hides eggs with money in them. But half the eggs would have nothing in them, and we’d put all these on the ground and all the ones with money in them up in trees, so only the older kids could reach them. And it was a kind of practical joke on the younger kids. And we’ve been doing this for like twenty years… It all arose because my grandparents loved competition.”

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.