The More You Know
Spring cleaning. It's a term we've all heard and an activity in which a lot of us participate. For reasons beyond me, cleaning in the early spring feels enjoyable, even satisfying (compared to the drab chores of winter).
Each spring, I find myself full of gusto as I grab my cleaning supplies and scrub my entire house. I typically organize the closets and bathroom vanities as well. But why?
Growing up, I heard a few theories as to why we as a culture practice this ritual, but I had heard enough conflicting versions, I wasn't inclined to believe one over the other. So, I recently asked a few people why they thought spring cleaning was a tradition; here's what they said,"
• "Probably because spring is a time for new, fresh things. Like baby birds or tulips."
• "Because I have no choice, happy wife, happy life."
• "I don't know because some things only need to be done once a year, I suppose."
• "Cabin fever, duh. There's nothing like opening the windows and letting fresh air into the house!"
Although their reasonings are rational, the root of why we culturally practice spring cleaning is quite different.
After a bit of rudimentary googling, I discovered that there isn't one definitive reason, but a few largely accepted theories have a connection to religion.
The first theory is tied to the Persian new year, Khanh Tekani, which always falls on the first day of spring. This celebration includes cleaning your home (when I say entire home, I mean the ENTIRE home).
The second theory is founded in the Jewish practice of cleaning a home before Passover (Pesach) to honor the Israelites' escape from captivity in Egypt.
The third theory stems from the Catholic church's traditional cleaning of the alter on Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday).
A looser connection can be made between spring cleaning and Northern America. This theory notes March as the best time to dust since homeowner(s) could open their doors and windows without fear of bugs entering the home (it would still be too cold for most insects to be present in this climate). The warmer weather may have also been ideal for cleaning fireplaces since additional soot wouldn't accumulate until the return of late autumn or early winter.
Sometimes, the reason(s) behind a phrase or event has an entirely different origin than the public perceives. Digging into the history of why can lead to a plethora of fun facts, but it also uncovers our link to our history, culture, and ancestors.
If I were trying to extrapolate a larger, more existential message from this blog, I would note that our current rituals will be woven into our descendants' lives. So, in some small way, your day will be a part of someone's tomorrow, and that's pretty cool.