New post on Wandervogel Diary
The equinox occurs today at 2:44 pm central, signifying the first day of fall.
As the angle of the earth’s inclination toward the sun changes throughout the year, lengthening or shortening the days according to season and hemisphere, there are two times annually when day and night are of more-or-less equal length: the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. These celestial tipping points have been observed for thousands of years and given rise to a considerable body of seasonal folklore. All my life I have heard the story that an egg can be balanced on end on the equinoxes, though I have never been successful in proving that it is true.
The egg being the most literal and obvious of all fertility symbols, ancient customs survive not only in the form of egg rolling and Easter egg hunts around the vernal equinox, but also in the quaint superstitious belief (most often attributed to the Chinese) that you can stand raw eggs on end on the the equinox. Apparently this derives from the notion that due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply.
Looked at skeptically it doesn’t make much sense, however. As David Emery of About.com points out, there’s a fall equinox every year, as well. Why are there no egg balancing contests on the first day of autumn? Secondly, while it’s true that on both equinoxes the earth’s axis is perpendicular to the sun, making day and night of equal length, there’s no scientific reason to suppose that such an alignment exerts any perceptible effect on solid objects here on earth. Thirdly, if the equinox can cause this curious anomaly, why not others?
Emory isn’t saying it can’t be done—standing raw eggs on end, I mean—it certainly can, but it takes patience, eggs of just the right shape (trial and error is the only way to find them), a pinch of salt if all else fails, and—here’s the biggest “secret” of all—it works equally well any day of the year. Emory has published a photograph of his website of an egg balanced on end three weeks before the equinox.
I have always used the equinoxes as spiritual holidays in which I make some effort, however large or small, to bring my relations with others into balance. Just as eggs can be balanced on any day of the year, our relationships know no special season. They can be in balance, like equal periods of night and day, every day of the year.
Groove of the Day
Listen to Ella Fitzgerald performing “Night And Day”