You can do the egg trick any day of the year
Folk tales from various European countries claim that only on the March equinox day (some may add the September equinox day or may explicitly not), one can balance an egg on its point. However one can balance an egg on its point any day of the year if one has the patience.
Newspapers have spread the myth
A newspaper clipping from the Springfield (OH) News-Sun (March 21, 1998) showed an egg balanced on end. The caption read:
"An egg balances over the Pittsfield, Mass., skyline Friday. The balancing act is repeatable only on the vernal and autumnal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator, making night and day equal on all parts of the earth. Friday marked the first day of spring. (AP photo)"
Chinese folk tales seem to be the origin
" As reported by Gardner in the Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 1996, page 8), the legend was born with an article penned by Annalee Jacoby in the March 19, 1945 issue of Life magazine. Ms. Jacoby was on assignment in China at that time, when she witnessed a peculiar Chinese ritual. In China, the first day of spring is called Li Chun, and they reckon it to be roughly six weeks before the vernal equinox. As loyal Bad Astronomy readers already know, in most countries, the equinoxes and solstices do not mark the beginning of seasons; America is odd in that we say that Spring begins on the equinox. Since a season is three months long, these other countries believe the actual first day of spring is six weeks before the equinox.
According to Chinese legend, it is easier to stand an egg on end on what they call the first day of spring (which, remember, is in early February). The Chinese legend, unfortunately, has an uncertain origin, though it is propagated through old books about Chinese rituals. Ms. Jacoby was in the capital city of Chunking on Li Chun when a crowd of people came to balance eggs. It must have been quite a sight, and so she wrote about it for Life.
Evidently, the United Press picked up the story and promptly sent it out over the wire. At that moment, a legend was born.
What's funny about this is that Ms. Jacoby evidently reported that the event occurred on the first day of spring, but it was never said (or else it was conveniently forgotten) that the first day of spring in China is a month and half before the first day of spring as recognized by Americans! The legend now states that you can only stand an egg on end at the equinox, yet the legend started because the Chinese were standing them up six weeks earlier. Ironically, the very basis of this legend is wrong!"
Equinox. (2008, February 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:55, February 21, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Equinox&oldid=192747467
- Infernal Egguinox
- Standing an egg on end on the Spring Equinox
- Equinox Means Balanced Light, Not Balanced Eggs
- Springfield (OH) News-Sun (March 21, 1998)
- Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 1996, page 8)
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