Shelling out: Outdoor spring ceremony is egg-cellent! • Brooklyn Paper

Shelling out: Outdoor spring ceremony is egg-cellent!

Take a crack at it!: Urban Shaman Donna “Mama Donna” Henes invites you to balance an egg on the ground during her 42nd Annual Spring Equinox Egg Balancing Celebration.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Egg-cept the challenge!

Ensure yourself a year that goes over easy by setting an egg on its end at the Spring Equinox Egg Balancing Celebration at Grand Army Plaza on March 20. The 42nd annual event, organized by urban shaman Donna Henes, also known as “Mama Donna,” is part of a ritual to welcome warmer weather and longer days.

“We’re welcoming in spring, we always start with an invocation and a blessing of the earth,” said Henes, who lives in Prospect Heights. “And it’s an old Chinese custom that if you stand an egg on the first day of spring you’ll have good luck on the rest of the year,”

On the first day of spring, also known as the spring equinox, the day and night are of exactly equal length, and so a sense of balance descends on the planet, said Henes, which may help the round chicken incubators to stand.

“It is a day of balance, and so I think maybe that has something to do with it,” she said.

And so each spring equinox, New York’s “Unofficial Commissioner of Public Spirit” celebrates the way the world turns by hosting an eggstravagant egg-standing ceremony for families and kids. Henes brings 360 raw eggs from her local Food Town, and no one is allowed to leave before their egg stands up on its own, she said.

“We always make it our business to stand all 360 eggs up,” she said.

The moment when the egg settles upright is magical, said Henes.

“It’s quite amazing because when you are trying to balance the eggs — raw regular eggs on the pavement — you’re holding and tipping it this way and that way, and there’s this moment of balance almost like you can feel it click, and when you remove your hand the egg stands up by itself,” she said.

Because the spring equinox only happens once each year, Henes has to put all her eggs in one basket, and the event happens regardless of the weather. Past crowds have turned out in rain, snow, and gloom of night, said Henes.

“Two years ago it was an absolute blizzard and people came, stood up their eggs in the snow,” she said. “It was fantastic.”

When the event is over, the 30-dozen eggs do not go to waste — Henes donates them to a nearby soup kitchen, where they get cooked up into omelettes and served, she said.

Henes has hosted the event for decades, but this year’s political turmoil has people yearning for signs of hope, and makes the upcoming celebration a little more meaningful, she said.

“These times are really trying for a lot of people, the whole political atmosphere, it’s been a hard time for a lot of people and so something as uplifting as this certainly underscores that hope,” she said. “The sun is still working, and we are still on this planet and things are okay. It’s a very optimistic kind of holiday.”

42nd Annual Spring Equinox Egg Balancing Celebration at the Bailey Fountain at Grand Army Plaza [Flatbush Avenue at Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights]. March 20 at 6 am. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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