(above image is taken from the informant’s Instagram with their consent. It was posted February 4, 2018)
Note: The tradition was performed by the 18 year old informant (notated I), while the further explanation was supplied by her mother (notated M).
Performance: This tradition was performed on February 4, 2022 by the 18 year old informant. Further information was collected over a phone call March 4, 2022.
Transcript of the informant explaining the performance:
[Note: the informant didn’t really explain the tradition in detail because it was something I already knew about. In essence it’s the balancing of eggs on the 4th or 5th day of Chinese New Year, however the informant does it every February 4th for convenience. Further detail can be found in the transcript from my conversation with the informant’s mother.]
I: um like, and I only like, we never like did it every year until a couple years ago, but like it was a long time ago since we were still living in that old house, um it’s like a fun good luck thing, and I get to do a fun thing for Chinese New Year that I understand and don’t have to speak Chinese for it AND I get to, it’s always been like a fun thing to include other people on. Because, like, I post on Instagram and half the people are like oh my god it’s f***ing egg day and the other half are like what is happening, what is egg day, why is everybody in on this?
And then, y’know, when I came here [Australia], two people were like what the f*** are you doing? and I was like balancing eggs do you want to balance eggs? and they were like kind of. So, I don’t know, it’s also something you can use to connect with people. And be like “this is a fun culture thing.” I don’t know, I just enjoy it. It’s a fun way to connect with my culture. But like, in a very, un-serious way.
And it’s not like a *super important cultural practice*, y’know? So, it really is like anybody can do it.
Transcript of the informant’s mother explaining additional information about the tradition:
Me: What is the name of the tradition, and what’s its origin?
M: Origin, Chinese. The name is call 立春 (Lìchūn)
M: Spring time (春Chūn) is in the middle. Li (Lì立) is like you stand straight. that’s called li.
[FROM LATER IN THE TRANSCRIPT]
M: I don’t think this is from like, from China. I think China people don’t do that though I don’t know why. This is more like Taiwan people do that, Hong Kong, of course Malaysia, right. Singapore. I don’t know, I kind of shocked when I asked my neighbor, she’s from Shanghai. She said she never did it. Maybe is not from China, I don’t know, but Hainam, the Hainamese do that.
What is the origin or meaning behind this tradition?
W: So we do that on…the the the meaning behind doing this is just to start, it means that the new, the spring day is coming. Is a new day, so for a new year, so that’s why Chinese doing it on the Lunar calendar New Year, um usually count it like fifth days, fourth or 5th days after the Chinese New Year, count it, start from the first day. And, lichun leans that in the old time, all the farmer right? So when it’s time to plant, that is when they do this, is called lichun. Lichun is just to like, to tell that it’s time to plant and that it’s spring time.
so this standing the eggs thing is just a…they believe the Earth is tilted on that particular day, that is straight. straight down like this that means it balance on both sides right. And somehow, I don’t know when it started, that they tested it… you can actually balance, because egg is the only thing that is not, you know, that is impossible to stand an egg. but on that day, actually they tried it, it worked, so it’s proof that the Earth is actually really straight and with the strong gravity. So we do that, then of course why they say do that is because to bring good luck in, into your house, prosperities. so that’s why Chinese do that during Chinese New Year, and then during Chinese New Year you want to bring good luck, you want to bring money into your house, so doing that means that, so you stand an egg, means that if it happens, if you’re successfully, you can do it, means that you have good luck. Then you let it stand in your house. I always let it stand for 15 days because Chinese New Year is 15 days so-
I: It means I have great luck.
M: So Chinese New year is always 15 days, right? And so a lot of celebration going on the 7 day, the 15 days, it depends on what you origin from. So like you’re Hawkin you do it differently, if you are Hainamese you do it differently, so all of it if you are different province you have different belief.
This tradition is particularly fascinating to me, because it displays an awareness that the Earth is not perfectly upright. While this tradition fulfills typical traits of many Chinese New Year traditions – an association with good fortune, it also differs greatly by balancing eggs. While the informant’s mother said that they balance eggs on this particular day because eggs are not perfectly round (and are difficult to balance), I also wonder if it’s because eggs are supposed to be a potential reflection of the world balancing on this particular day. Many ideas of world eggs are discussed in Venetia Newall’s Easter Eggs. While none of them particularly match Egg Day, they share an idea of an egg as something greater than just an egg.
For additional discussions of Eggs and their significance to folklore, go to:
Newall, Venetia. “Easter Eggs.” In The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 80, No. 315. (Jan. – Mar., 1967), pp. 3-32.