Jon de Vos: Prevent the wanton destruction of eggs
March 19, 2009
Today is the Spring Equinox. The word “equinox” describes the twice annual celestial event of the sun’s crossing directly above a point on the earth’s equator. Twice a year the duration of the night equals the duration of the day. In the spring it is a notice to farmers that the days ahead will be longer and warmer; it’s time to plant. The Vernal Equinox lies six months away and warns of the onset of shorter days and colder nights.
The Spring Equinox is the pivotal point in the calculation of the date of Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. The Julian Calendar was developed by Julius Caesar and followed for almost 1,600 years. Based upon that calendar, Easter was observed on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 20 or 21). That is, unless the full moon is on a Sunday at which point Easter is celebrated the following Sunday. It’s can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. For western Christians, it’s been that way since 325 AD, the Emperor of Rome, Constantine, ordered the Council of Nicea to, well, to play nice. He demanded that everyone quit bickering, show a unified front, and, by the way, here’s how we will all calculate Easter, which started out as a pagan fertility celebration.
After the Council, things remained calm for twelve centuries but the Julian calendar contained several small errors that accumulated over time and the equinoxes were occurring several days before their allotted date. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (for whom our modern Gregorian calendar is named), made some changes, adding days and removing some leap years. This upset the Jews because the changes Gregory made allowed Easter to fall before Passover, a contradiction that was unacceptable to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Still today eastern Christians cling to the original Julian calculation which leads to differences sometimes as great as a month between the eastern and western celebration of Easter. See, you just thought it was confusing.
Why else is the equinox important? Because a lot of people out there think that’s the only day of the year that you can balance a fresh egg on its end. It’s a sure bet that right now as we read, there are several local news stations out there filming grade-schoolers trying to balance eggs upright because today, the sun is directly overhead, with every ounce of it’s gravitational pull straining to help you stand up that egg.
I’ve got to stop and warn you right now not to try this at home unless you are under the direct supervision of a grade-school kid. When I tried it, there were disastrous results and fourteen eggs had to be euthanized in the process. Plus it’s a lot easier if you sprinkle a layer of salt on the table and set the egg down on it. It will sit upright easily. Gently blow away all the salt not involved in holding up the egg and call in all your easily-amazed friends. Anyone can do this any day of the year. If you happen to do it without salt, after trying it 200 times, you’ve probably worn a flat spot on the bottom of the egg.