You can balance an egg today

23 Sep

Last Monday was a holiday in Japan, called 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“). On this day, people often give gifts to their elderly parents or grandparents. Many kindergartens invite grandparents to have lunch at the school with their grandchildren.

Shoulder massages are common "gifts" to grandparents on this day.

Today is another holiday in Japan…「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“).  On this day in Japan, and on the 「春分の日」 (“Spring Equinox“) in March, it is common for people to visit their family graves to pay respects.  This custom is called 「彼岸の中日」 (“Higan-no-chuu-nichi“).

The actual date of 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) varies slightly. Spring Equinox is around March 20 or 21 and Autumn Equinox is usually September 22 or 23. I read online that in 1931, the Autumn Equinox occurred on September 24 and the next time it will occur on that date will be in the year 2303.

But in Japan, 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) is always celebrated on March 20th and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) is always on September 23rd. The only time the dates change is when one of those dates fall on a Sunday…then the holiday is observed the next day.

「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“) is celebrated on the third Monday of September. Last year that holiday and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) were only one day apart, so the Japanese government made the day between them a one-time temporary holiday so that most people in Japan could have a five-day holiday period that was called “Silver Week“.
(I wrote a post about last year’s “Silver Week” here.)

Yesterday someone asked me if the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes were holidays in America like they are in Japan, and how they’re observed in America.

I know that Spring and Autumn Equinox, as well as Summer and Winter Solstice in June and December, aren’t legal holidays in America. But they’re considered the date that the seasons change. Americans say that the first day of Winter is around December 21, the first day of Spring is around March 20, the first day of Summer is around June 21 and the first day of Autumn is around September 23.
So, in America, today is the first day of Autumn.

In Japan, the first day of every three months is considered to be the beginning of the next season.
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn each start on December 1st, March 1st, June 1st and September 1st, respectively.

But maybe the American dates are more accurate. Because yesterday was a very hot and sunny day in Tokyo. It was about 33°C.
But today is a bit cold and rainy. The temperature dropped down to 23°C! And tomorrow is forecast to be even colder…20°C.

Another thing that is said about the equinoxes in America is that they are the only days of the year that you can balance on egg upright.

I don’t know where that came from. But it’s an American urban legend that eggs can be easily balanced on the day of an equinox.

How is Autumn Equinox (and Spring Equinox) celebrated in your country?

(Also, if you want to know more about Japanese holidays, read my F.A.Q.).

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20 Responses to “You can balance an egg today”

  1. jaydeejapan September 28, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    tokyo5 :
    I know February is warm in Australia and other countries south of the equator…since it’s the middle of summer in February there.
    But I thought February was the coldest month everywhere north of the equator.

    February is the 2nd coldest month where I’m from originally. January is coldest.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 29, 2010 at 1:44 am #

      >where I’m from originally

      Where’s that?

      Like

      • jaydeejapan September 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

        Edmonton in Canada.

        Like

      • tokyo5 September 29, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

        Much colder than where I grew up. 😉

        Like

  2. Roxy September 24, 2010 at 6:12 am #

    Grandparents day is this Sunday in Ireland. The equinox are not celebrated. Spring in Ireland begins on February 1st I think. This day is also a feast day for Saint Bridget and I remember a song that says,’Bridget brings the spring’ every 3 months the seasons change here too, I think, only a month behind Japan.
    I have never heard of the egg urban legend.
    In ireland there is a place called newgrange that only on the winter solstice the chamber lights up for about 17 minshttp://www.newgrange.com/
    There is one stone at Loghcrew in crain T that only lights up on the equinoxoes http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/loughcrew/ more info 🙂
    Thought they’d be some interesting facts for you 🙂 ^^

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

      “Grandparents Day”? How is it celebrated? I wonder how similar it is to Japan’s 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Aged Day”).

      And in Ireland the first day of spring is observed as February 1st? It’s surprising to me…February is the coldest month of winter!!

      >Thought they’d be some interesting facts for you

      Yes. Thanks.

      Like

      • Roxy September 27, 2010 at 5:43 am #

        well it is not celebrated in the same way, you call or visit your grandparents. there’s a competition where a grandchild puts there grandparent forward to be the grandparent of the year, i think and the grandparent who wins gets to meet the president and get a holiday in Ireland. i would not know about the it if only for the news. It is not a big event here.

        >And in Ireland the first day of spring is observed as February 1st? It’s surprising to me…February is the coldest month of winter!!
        Over here it would probaly be late December to January. February means the weather may me getting better or instead of being cold it might get wetter!

        Like

      • tokyo5 September 28, 2010 at 1:00 am #

        >It is not a big event here.

        「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day”) isn’t a major holiday in Japan either.

        >February means the weather may me getting better

        I know February is warm in Australia and other countries south of the equator…since it’s the middle of summer in February there.
        But I thought February was the coldest month everywhere north of the equator.

        Like

  3. jaydeejapan September 24, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    I had students tell me that it was autumn in the middle of August. Of course, it was the middle of summer holidays for schools, as well as the hottest month of the year. They told me it was getting cooler…..no it wasn’t. But I did have someone explain to me about the lunar calendar that the Chinese and Japanese used. Technically and scientifically, autumn begins on the autumnal equinox. I stick with that.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 24, 2010 at 1:44 am #

      Some people might go by the Chinese lunar calendar which might place Autumn in August…but I think most Japanese would say that Autumn started on September 1st.

      >autumn begins on the autumnal equinox. I stick with that.

      Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in Japan a while now, but I’ve become used to thinking of the beginning of the seasons on the first of the month.

      Like

  4. AliciaT September 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Im in Miami Fl. I think the balancing trick was yesterday for us, which was the 22. I wanted to show my daughter, but my egg cant seem to stand up today…

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 24, 2010 at 12:23 am #

      The urban legend is that eggs can be balanced upright on the Equinoxes…so it would be September 23rd.

      Anyways, it’s only an urban legend. It’s not really true.
      If you’re able to get an egg to balance, the date won’t be a factor.

      Like

  5. sixmats September 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Japan should make these holidays (Silver Week) an annually occurring week off.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 24, 2010 at 12:19 am #

      The next time it’s due to occur is the year 2015.

      Like

  6. pongrocks September 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    There is no special celebration for any equinox in Germany, at least where I live… But that may very well differ in another part of Germany. My grandmother used to always point out to me when seasons were changing (the astronomical dates you listed) and we sometimes went on a walk especially on that day, but I guess that was just her personal thing 😉 The astronomical dates are also taught at school, but mainly because of the climate aspect and its importance for geography.

    The temperature is about the same over here… The forecast says somewhere between 20°C and 25°C today.

    Look here for info about the egg thing… 😀 Well, I don’t know if it actually works (urban legend, just like you said) but the story is quite well known in Europe and that might be the origin… And after I read your article I was kind of intrigued and searched for it. All I found was that there is no scientifical reason for them to stay in balance on this exact day… And I wouldn’t know a reason why the sun would have this kind of impact on the gravity anyway 😉

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

      Europe has the same urban legend about eggs on an equinox?
      There is no such legend in Japan. I think that most Japanese would be surprised to learn about such an urban legend.

      And the seasons are said to begin on the equinoxes and solstices in Germany, as in America?
      In Japan, as I wrote above, people say the seasons start on the first day of March, June, Sept and Dec.

      >somewhere between 20°C and 25°C today.

      About the same as Tokyo now. It suddenly got cold here. Yesterday was hot.

      Like

      • pongrocks September 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

        >Europe has the same urban legend about eggs on an equinox?

        Nope, first time I heard about that… I just new the story about the columbus egg I linked in the last post. But after I googled it I found some German hompages discussing that topic.

        They say it’s quite easy to do it any time of the year if you have a rather rough surface to place your egg on. The eggshell itself is rough too, which helps a lot as well… I guess it needs like 3 very tiny but different contacts to the ground to stay somewhat upright, just like a three-legged stool… at least thats what I think does the trick… In addition it has to be a raw egg, maybe because the swimming egg yolk inside helps balancing? Most of this is just me guessing, though…

        >And the seasons are said to begin on the equinoxes and solstices in Germany, as in America?

        yeah, that’s right. I don’t really get why they didn’t just take the exact dates in Japan. Maybe because they’re so inconsistent?

        Like

      • tokyo5 September 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

        >I don’t really get why they didn’t just take the exact dates in Japan. Maybe because they’re so inconsistent?

        No, I think it’s because Japan used to use a “lunar” calendar similar to China’s (but not exactly the same)…and when they converted to a “solar” calendar (as the West uses), the seasons didn’t “line up” exactly.

        Like

      • pongrocks September 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

        >No, I think it’s because Japan used to use a “lunar” calendar similar to China’s (but not exactly the same)…and when they converted to a “solar” calendar (as the West uses), the seasons didn’t “line up” exactly.

        So it’s something historical… well, sounds a bit like they didn’t know where to put it so they just placed it on a date easy to remember and approximately right 😉 I always mix up “our” dates anyway

        Like

      • tokyo5 September 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

        >they just placed it on a date easy to remember and approximately right

        Yeah, I think was probably a factor…as well as, the first of the month (on the solar calendar) is closer to the beginning of the seasons on the lunar calendar.

        Like

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