Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dragon Boat Festival: Time to balance an egg

The Dragon Boat Festival is here. Aside from eating rice dumpling 粽子 zòngzi and participating the dragon boat race 划龍船 huà lóngchuán, it's also the time for balancing an egg. Yes, making a raw egg to stand on its end. According to the tradition in Taiwan (and China), the exact time is 12 noon on the day of Dragon Boat Festival, that is June 23 this year. Rumor has it that it is the exact time when the gravitational force is the strongest due to the earth's position in the solar system, making it possible to balance the eggs.

Attention to all eggs
Please stand up, please stand up!

It was said that this time of year, the earth's axis is perfectly in line with the center of the sun, causing an equal time proportion of the sun above and below the horizon (equinox). This gives the perfect balance of day and night in all places on earth. 

Equinox - equal (aequus) day and night (nox)

The equinox marks the period where there is equal time of sun for northern and southern hemisphere. Equal day and night, so what does it have to do with the egg-balancing properties?

The egg-balancing activity :)

In response to public questions, an astronomer from University of Minnesota, Frank D. Ghigo, conducted a scientific research on egg-balancing in the 1980s using four samples of a dozen eggs. He balanced an egg each day from February to April 1984 (the equinox happened in March that year). He concluded that there was no significant relationship between the astronomical phenomena of equinox and the egg balancing. More significant influence came from the egg's surface and the balancer's mood. The eggs with the right surface could stand up at any time of the year, while some others just can not. The equinox does create balance between the day and night but, unfortunately, there was no evidence on the enhancement of gravitational pull that would cause the eggs to stand.

A troop of eggs, standing proud

So, why now? It just happened that people balance the eggs at this time of year to follow the cultural tradition to mark the day. In Taiwanese tradition, it is believed that if you can balance the egg at the noon of Dragon Boat Festival, you will have a good luck and harmony the whole year. And it's always fun to gather some folks to perform this ritual and experience the "whoa" sensation. So, what to do now?

I'd say, just grab an egg. What do you think? :)))


  1. Nice sharing. I love it.

    1. Did you try? :) Petty, maybe you can explain the local belief of this egg-balancing tradition?