spaceSpace and Physics

Is This Bizarre Equinox Urban Legend Actually True?


James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

Oh c'mon, why is #eggquinox not trending. Twitter / Michael Wengert

Urban legends are strange things, but we might have found the weirdest one in existence. It appears that a number of people are spreading around the utterly bizarre rumor that you can only balance an egg on its end during the equinox.

"Equinox" is the term for days when the day and night last the same amount of time. This happens twice a year, once in March (the Vernal, or Spring equinox), and once in September (the Autumn equinox).


It seems the world is still having trouble shaking old pagan beliefs that these days have magical properties though, as people are still spreading rumors that eggs can only be balanced on their end during this one day, even though this can be debunked easily using nothing but an egg and 363 days of the year. 

It was even featured in an episode of The West Wing titled "Evidence of Things Not Seen".

The rumor isn't just limited to eggs, either. Essentially, people believe that it's possible to balance an egg on its bottom, and brooms for some reason, on these specific days of the year due to the gravitational pull of the Sun on those days.

This is, of course, nonsense. Egg balancing can be done all year round, and has no connection to the gravitational force of the Moon or Sun. In 1984, a scientist at the University of Minnesota actually tested this by balancing eggs on the equinox and on other days during the year.


“The upshot is that, as far as I can tell, there isn’t too much relationship between astronomical phenomena and balancing eggs," astronomer Frank D. Ghigo said. "It is basically a function of the shape of the egg and the surface.”

He did, however, point out that “the mood and persistence of the balancer has a major effect on the balancing rate."

"If one is impatient or nervous," he added, " the rate is low.”

So maybe people are more persistent on the equinox, reinforcing this strange idea.

You can test this for yourself, just get an egg and balance it on any day of the year other than the equinox. To be really thorough, do it on several different days of the year.

Here is a video of a man doing just that, for a more visceral proof.

Brooms can also be balanced on any day. It works especially well with new brooms that have more rigid and stiff bristles due to lack of use.

[H/T: Snopes]


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