Vernal Equinox falls on March 20. By the time of this solar term, half of spring has already gone by. How fleeting spring is! On this day, the sun shines directly on the Equator, and, as a result, daytime is as long as night. After this day, the daytime of the Northern Hemisphere starts getting longer while nighttime gets proportionally shorter.
This is the time when riverside willows are green, trees are filled with twittering birds, and wheat grows astonishingly fast. In South China, the land is painted with colorful flowers; rainfall increases in regions south of the Yangtze River, while in North China, where spring rain is deemed as precious as cooking oil, rainwater is still in short supply, so crops fight a continual war against drought.
As it gets warmer, flocks of birds that have flown south for the winter return north. They fly back and forth, repairing their old nests. This is a good time of year for people to go hiking or walking in the fields.
In Chinese folklore, it is said that eggs can be balanced upright at the Spring Equinox. In some parts of China, people believe the person who can make an egg stand up on this day will be continually blessed all year long. Well, according to astronomers and physicists, setting the egg upright has nothing to do with time, but with mechanics – shifting the egg’s center of gravity. The trick is to hold the egg upright until the yolk sinks down to the bottom. An egg which is at least four or five days old is more inclined to allow the yolk to readjust.
Among ancient Chinese poems on the subject of spring, “The Willow” written by He Zhizhang (c.660 – c.740) during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) sounds almost as good as spring itself:
Slender beauties dressed in emerald surround,
A thousand branches droop like jade fringes.
But do you know who carves these slim leaves?
The wind of early spring is sharp as scissor blades.