Egg of Li Chun
The terms Li Chun egg balancing or egg of Li Chun refers to a Chinese
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 folk belief
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 that it is much easier to balance an egg
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

 on a smooth surface during Li Chun
The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms . Lìchūn or Risshun is the 1st solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly...

 (the official first day of spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

 in the Chinese lunar calendar, which usually falls on February 4 or 5), than at any other time of the year. Balancing fresh chicken eggs on their broad end was a traditional Li Chun ritual in China.

This "fact" has come to be widely believed in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 since 1945, and egg-balancing events are sometimes held on that date. In fact, the balancing of an egg on its broad end is not particularly difficult, at any time of the year.


The alleged positive influence of Li Chun on egg balance seems to be very ancient. It is stated, for instance, in the old Chinese books Secret Kaleidoscope and Know What Heaven Knows.

In 1945 Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

magazine reported on an egg-balancing craze among the population of Chungking
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

, on that year's Li Chun (February 4). That article and its follow-ups started a similar egg-balancing mania in the United States, but transposed to the astronomical vernal equinox (about March 21). Japanese newspapers picked up the story in 1947.

In 1978, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 artist Donna Henes
Donna Henes
Donna Henes is a ceremonial artist, urban shaman, ritual expert and consultant, speaker, workshop leader and award-winning writer.Henes is originally from Cleveland, Ohio.-Biography:...

 started organizing egg-balancing ceremonies, with the stated goal to bring about world peace
World peace
World Peace is an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or people. World peace is an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare. The term is sometimes used to...

 and international harmony. These events, which often drew thousands of people, were held at least until 1988.

Physical explanation

No physical
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 influence of other celestial bodies
Celestial Body
Celestial Body is a Croatian film directed by Lukas Nola. It was released in 2000....

 on the egg can affect its balance to the extent required by the folk belief. Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

al and electromagnetic forces
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

, in particular, are considerably weaker and steadier than the disturbances created by the person's breathing and heartbeat.

In 1947, Japanese physicist Ukichiro Nakaya
Ukichiro Nakaya
was a Japanese physicist and science essayist known for his work in glaciology and low-temperature sciences. He is credited with making the first artificial snowflakes.-Life and research:...

 verified experimentally that eggs in fact can be balanced with ease at any time of the year. He noticed that the shell
An eggshell is the outer covering of a hard-shelled egg and of some forms of eggs with soft outer coats.- Insect eggs :Insects and other arthropods lay a variety of styles and shapes of eggs. Some have gelatinous or skin-like coverings, others have hard eggshells. Softer shells are mostly protein....

 of an egg usually has many small bumps and dimples, so that, by turning the egg in different directions, it can be made to touch a flat surface on three points at once, in many ways. It is not hard to find an orientation such that the triangle spanned by the three contact points lies right under the egg's center of mass
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

, which is the condition for balancing any object. Of course, balancing an egg on a rough surface is easy too, for the same reason.

Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

 also observed that "if you are convinced that an egg will balance more easily on a certain day you will try a little harder, be more patient, and use steadier hands. If you believe that eggs won't balance on other days, this belief is transmitted subconsciously to your hands", and compares the process to the "Ouija-board
The Ouija board also known as a spirit/fire key board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words "yes", "no", "hello" and "goodbye", and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board...


See also

  • Egg of Columbus (mechanical puzzle)
    Egg of Columbus (mechanical puzzle)
    The names Egg of Columbus and Columbus Egg have been used for several mechanical toys and puzzles inspired on the legend of Columbus balancing an egg on its end to drive a point...

  • Easter egg
    Easter egg
    Easter eggs are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime.The oldest tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans...

  • Superegg
    In geometry, a superegg is a solid of revolution obtained by rotating an elongated super-ellipse with exponent greater than 2 around its longest axis. It is a special case of super-ellipsoid....

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