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Mexican Mardi Gras
When walking through the Jardín on the weekend and days leading up to Ash Wednesday, stay alert. Vendors will be surrounding the square selling big baskets of cascarones, dyed eggs filled with confetti, glitter and/or cornstarch. These are perfectly designed for breaking over the heads of friends and strangers alike. Kids especially get a giggle out of bashing them on the noggins of unwary gringos.
If you don’t go home covered in confetti, you haven’t properly been to the Jardín on Carnaval weekend (Mardi Gras). This is also the day to buy the crepe paper flowers and clowns that make such colorful home decor.
To visit the jardin these evenings is to witness a dust covered egg war zone filled with hilarity and good cheer.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s boys would pass in one direction around the jardin, and girls in the opposite direction. If a lad favored a lass he would smash an egg on her head. If she had similar feelings, on the next rotational pass she would reciprocate on his head.
The colors of the flowers sold held significance. Pink meant happiness while purple was for penance. Red flowers signified a boy is asking her to be his girlfriend. Her answer was yes if she responded with a white flower, any other color signified a negative response.
These same flowers were often sold year round for various church festivals and were placed with fruit at the graves of deceased children. Today the flowers’ paper is imported and the usage and significance of the colors has decreased.