Thursday, February 9, 2012

Standing Eggs On Lap Chun


My siblings and I couldn't have nian xiao (the 15th and final day of Chinese New Year celebrations) together as we all have our own in-laws to eat with so we had dinner together the next day instead, partly to celebrate my bro Joe's birthday. I always find nian xiao a 6 out of 10 on the depression scale. The festival is over, the lion dances are gone, people go back to work and all the red decorations and cheer disappear, like there's a before and after CNY decorum. We only had 2 kids present for dinner, my son Ming and my sis's daughter Chloe. All the other kids were either away at work or studies. I felt the empty nest for us all.

My sister asked during dinner if I made any eggs stand on lap chun, the spring equinox , the first day of spring, which fell on 4th Feb this year. Frankly, I've not heard of lap chun because I didn't go to Chinese school and my parents were not Buddhists or Taoists or superstitious. One of the things I appreciate about my parents was that they were not superstitious. My father especially disdained superstitions although he was very Chinese in regard to traditions. Because of this upbringing, I drink cold water anytime of the month without getting cramps and I go out into the rain without ever getting sick. I also give peddlers, water filters and food supplement sales people a hard time. Don't even sell me detox programs, especially enemas. I get my enemas from eating okra.

Lucky for me, I had seen some photos of standing eggs on Facebook on the 4th Feb and that led me to google on it. The Chinese believed since thousands of years ago that an egg can stand on its end only on lap chun. The theory is that the astronomic conditions--the moon and the earth are perfectly aligned and the gravity pull is optimal--are perfect for that phenomenon on that day. That's enough to make any of us who are astronomy ignorant to shut up and buy the standing egg. But not me, even though I can't tell Uranus from Saturn. If conditions are perfect, why can't everybody make eggs stand during those four or six critical hours on that day? And why eggs? Why not a walking stick or a rugby ball? It's optimal gravity after all.

While many Chinese believe in lap chun, westerners and those who never grew up in a household of lap chun egg believers debunk it as a myth. Somebody told me yesterday that his science teacher in TTSS made eggs stand on lap chun and from what I've heard, Chinese science teachers in Malaysia love to propagate the myth. Non-believers and the scientifically-inclined (meaning not Malaysian Chinese science teachers) say that anyone who has the patience can make an egg stand on its end, anytime, anyday, especially if an egg with a rough end is used. If all else fails, a pinch of salt or sugar (or sand, I think) will do the magic. And that's exactly what I did.

I used a pinch of salt and balanced the eggs on the smooth surface of a table. They stood.


My niece asked if the egg could stand on its pointed end too. It did.

With a bit of practice, I can make an egg stand on 3 grains of salt. The finer the salt, the easier the egg will stand without being found out. Fine sugar works too, I've tried it. You can either put the salt on the egg or the table but when you stand the egg, gently and firmly grind the egg on the table to crush the salt. It's all friction, baby.

Trivia from Wiki: An egg of Columbus or Columbus's egg refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to a popular story of howChristopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers gave up, Columbus did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.

Columbus needn't have tapped the egg. He didn't even have to wait until lap chun. He just needed three grains of salt.


Anonymous said...

Spring equinox is around march 21 every year. You have just debunked the myth.

Anonymous said...

Yeah captain obvious spring equinox is usually around late march. Clearly you didn't do your research thoroughly.

rogermht said...

Easter is coming. Maybe I will try that on Easter Egg to see if the trick works.

tina said...

Never heard of this. haha. Good one Terri!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

anon: captain obvious yes spring equinox is march 20 this year. lap chun is the first day of spring. however, there is a western myth too that eggs can stand on spring equinox, when day and night are equal
so i confused the two days. however, i stand corrected because i meant standing eggs on lap chun, not on spring equinox. don't you get tt my point was eggs can be made to stand anytime anyday?

roger: try it any day. it works! try it on megan:D

Michelle Chin said...

my friend did it too. haha.

anyway, my mom would be experiencing her super empty nest soon. i will be going back to melbourne soon. sigh.

Nee said...

Haha ... Thanks for de bugging. Saw this stuff on fb n had my doubts but didnt follow up.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

michelle: my boy's leaving monday n i asked him to delay it by 3 more days but he said he can' day his son will do same to him, one generation pining for the next...from the day our kids are born, they start leaving us n tt's necessary for their own survival n good.*sigh* ur mom n i shd form a lonely moms club:(

nee: i saw kay's latest pic on fb n she looks gorgeous:) ah, u still hv so many years with her b4 she leaves the nest...enjoy...

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