We are a few weeks away from spring, and many minds are turning towards spring cleaning. Spring cleaning involves cleaning your home thoroughly, from top to bottom. It also helps to throw open your windows afterwards to let in the fresh spring air. But why do we spring clean? Who started the tradition? There are several opinions.
Before the modern era of efficient heating, spring cleaning made sense. Homes were closed up tightly in the cold winter months and smelly, dirty fuels from the fireplace, coal burning stoves, and kerosene heaters, would cover everything in the house with smoke and soot. When spring came around the house could be opened up again and walls, woodwork and rugs were given a deep cleaning.
Fortunately today we have much cleaner choices for heating our homes so they do not get nearly as dirty during the colder months. Our homes get less dirty during this time because they are closed up! So because of that we believe Fall is the best time of year for a deep cleaning; the wonderful results will last longer!
During the Jewish religious holiday of Passover, all traces of food made with yeast (leavened) must be removed from the home. In order to do so, observant Jews would thoroughly clean the house. The night before the Passover holiday, there would be a hunt for leavened bread (chametz) crumbs by candlelight. It is part of Greek Orthodox tradition to thoroughly clean in the week before or during the first week of Lent. The cleaning would typically take an entire week.
The Persian New Year celebration (Nouroz) occurs at the beginning of Spring. Before Nouroz begins, Persian women traditionally “shake the house.” Called khooneh takouni, this thorough cleaning even involves cleaning the ceilings! As part of the Chinese tradition, homes must be thoroughly cleaned before the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This cleaning includes throwing out broken household items, and might also include Feng Shui.
So while we may not know exactly why we spring clean – we do know one thing. It makes us feel good!
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