The vernal equinox, or spring equinox, is one of two times during the year when the length of day and the length of night are just about equal. And when this happens, the egg balancers and broom standers come out of the woodwork.
As folklore has it, the position of the sun and other planets on the equinoxes means that miraculous feats of balance can occur. True?
No. But twice a year, many people try. That explains the images popping up on social media of precariously balanced raw eggs and brooms. Look, Ma! No hands!
The spring equinox – when the sun is positioned directly over the equator of our tilted Earth -- will occur at 1:14 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday. And, as About.com notes, astronomers attest that equinoxes and planetary alignments have no "physical effect on earthly objects."
So there's no reason -- if you practice -- that you shouldn't be able to balance eggs and brooms just as well on July 20 as on March 20. The video above has a good how-to on egg balancing. Brooms are easier, given the stiff bristles, which provide a nice base. See the video at bottom.
The Chinese may have originated the egg-standing practice at the spring equinox, according to Snopes.com. Eggs fit with the fertility theme of the spring equinox, whereas brooms are popular at the autumnal equinox, appropriate to that witchy fall atmosphere.
More substantial traditions abound on the equinox.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. And at sunrise on the vernal equinox,Egypt's sphinx points directly to the rising sun.
Nowruz, known widely as the Persian new year, takes place on the vernal equinox. On Monday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wished Iranians a happy new year, according to Agence France-Presse, while also calling for respect for human rights and freedom of expression.
Millions of Iranians, Kurds and other groups in the region will celebrate the 13-day festival.