It was a highly aromatic affair. “The war of the eggs” was a feature of “carnaval,” the pre-Lenten celebrations of the Hispanic Californios.
You might try it for your own Mardi Gras celebration.
Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast,” gives us a picture of the carnaval-time wedding of Boston-born Alfred Robinson and Señorita de la Guerra y Noriega, at Santa Barbara in 1836.He says:
“When the great doors of the mission-church opened, the bells rang out a loud, discordant peal, a private signal was run up for us by the captain ashore, the bride, dressed in complete white, came out of the church with the bridegroom, followed by a long procession.
“Just as she stepped from the church door, a small white cloud issued from the bows of our ship, which was in full sight. A loud report echoed among the surrounding hills and over the bay, and instantly the ship was dressed in flags and pennants from stem to stern.
“Twenty-three guns followed in regular succession, with an interval of 15 seconds between each, when the cloud cleared away, and the ship lay dressed in her colors all day. At sundown another salute of the same number of guns was fired, and all the flags run down.
“After supper we rowed ashore, dressed in our uniforms, beached the boat, and went up to the fandango. As we drew near we heard the accustomed sound of violins and guitars, and saw a great (com)motion of the people within.
“Going in, we found nearly all the people of the town — men, women, and children crowded together, leaving barely room for the dancers; for on these occasions no invitations are given, but every one is expected to come, though there is always a private entertainment within the house for particular friends. The old women sat down in rows, clapping their hands to the music, and applauding the young ones
“The great amusement of the evening — which I suppose was owing to its being carnival — was the breaking of eggs filled with cologne, or other essences, upon the heads of the company.
“One end of the egg is broken and the inside taken out, then it is partly filled with cologne, and the hole sealed up.
“The women bring a great number of these secretly about them, and the amusement is to break one upon the head of a gentleman when his back is turned. He is bound in gallantry to find out the lady and return the compliment, though it must not be done if the person sees you.
“A tall, stately don, with immense grey whiskers and a look of great importance, was standing before me, when I felt a light hand on my shoulder, and turning round saw Doña Angustia (Casarin de la Guerra, later Ord) with her finger on her lip, motioning me gently aside. “I stepped back a little, when she went up behind the don, and with one hand knocked off his huge sombrero, and at the same instant, with the other, broke the egg upon his head, and springing behind me was out of sight in a moment.
“The don turned slowly round, the cologne running down his face and over his clothes, and a loud laugh breaking out from every quarter. He looked round in vain for some time, until the direction of so many laughing eyes showed him the fair offender.
“She was his niece, and a great favorite with him, so old Domingo had to join in the laugh. A great many such tricks were played, and many a war of sharp maneuvering was carried on between the couples of the younger people; and at every successful exploit a general laugh was raised.”
Dan Krieger is a professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly and president of the California Mission Studies Association.