Spring Cleaning: Who can we thank for this tradition?
It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, and it’s a good thing too! There is suddenly so much to do around the house, right? Spring cleaning is a popular but time consuming and strenuous tradition. There may be a few explanations as to why we as Americans feel the sudden urge to collectively purge, rearrange and restore our homes from top to bottom come springtime. Now who can we thank for starting this trend?
Well, it’s no myth; winter causes us to be inherently less active and motivated. That’s right; your brain creates melatonin when there is less sunlight on cold dreary days, making you sleepy! Come spring, Mother Nature provides us a natural energy boost by giving us warmer weather and extra sunlight. This is when you’ll notice the cobwebs, the ring around the tub and the dirty, streaky windows.
So now that we know why we’re willing to spend the time and effort cleaning, we can explore the ancient tradition of spring cleaning as an activity that western society has adopted. Spring cleaning was not always how we know it to be today; it began in the Jewish, Iranian and Chinese cultures many centuries ago.
The Jewish tradition came from their regular house cleaning just before Passover; the holiday marking the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Since matzah, or unleavened bread, was fed to the Jewish slaves in Egypt, it is tradition for Jews to rid their house of any leavened bread during Passover. This is to honor and remember those that had to overcome slavery and oppression by eating foods the Jews consider humble. To ensure all bread has been removed from the house, including crumbs, a full-fledged house cleaning is routinely done each year as to not offend God.
The Iranian New Year, like in most cultures, signifies new beginnings. The ritual, “khooneh takouni” which means “shaking the house” has been a customary activity performed by Iranians looking to turn over a new leaf and refresh their homes. Undergoing a complete house cleaning allows for the New Year to start off on the right foot.
The third group of contributors to the origin of spring cleaning is the Chinese. The Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in their culture. It is celebrated for weeks, welcoming spring and celebrating good fortune to come. Like Iranians, Chinese mark the coming of a new year with a thorough house cleaning. They sweep, mop and rearrange to rid their homes of any negativity seen in the previous year. They do this to symbolically welcome rebirth in all aspects of their life, hoping to bring good luck in the New Year.
Spring Cleaning: Never Fear, Help is Out There!
No matter your reason, you may become overwhelmed at the daunting task of cleaning an entire house inside and out. Many homeowners are able to tackle the tasks inside their home, but how many are able to get on a ladder and completely clean their own windows, siding and gutters? How many homeowners are comfortable doing that, and furthermore, have the tools and supplies to do so? Reaching out for help in some areas may be worth considering. Do yourself a favor and research quality local home service and landscape professionals this season. Reviews on sites like AngiesList, Google+ or Yelp will help steer you in the right direction. You could also ask a friend or neighbor who they use. Creating a game plan and sticking to it with a little help will make for a successful spring cleaning this year!