Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where Did the Practice of Spring Cleaning Begin?

With Spring knocking on our door, with it comes the arrival of the loved and dreaded (but mostly dreaded) spring cleaning. Spring cleaning, a term most of us are quite familiar with, refers to the heavy duty clean sweep we give our house after the long winter days are coming to a close. But since we all know what spring cleaning is, where did it actually come from?The practice of spring cleaning is actually more widespread and historic then we initially imagined. Several different possibilities for the origin of such practices are suggested. 

One theory is that the concept of cleaning and preparing one's house for the coming of spring dates back to the Persian new year, Iranian Norouz. Every part of the house is carefully cleaned and put together nicely in anticipation of the new year, which falls on the first day of spring. This cleaning is referred to as khooneh takouni, which translates to "shaking the house". 

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Another theory suggests that spring cleaning came about from the ancient Jewish practice of purifying and cleansing the home before the arrival of Passover. There are guidelines that surround the holiday forbidding the consumption of any food or drinks that may have been fermented with yeast. Strict observers of this rule with thoroughly clean their home to rid of such foods and drinks

It could also be said that the Chinese are responsible for the creation of spring cleaning traditions. The Chinese carefully dust, sweep, and organize their homes to prepare for the Chinese New Year, with the belief that they are cleansing their home of last year's bad luck and inviting good luck in for the next year. 

Although, theories of the origins of spring cleaning vary, it is a practice that is still quite common throughout cultures. Greece even has a designated week for such cleaning, known as Clean Week. Falling during or right before the first week of Great Lent, Clean Week is a time for the people to clean and organize their houses from top to bottom! The Scottish tradition of New Year's cleaning has spread to other countries such as Ireland, North America, and New Zealand. 

Happy spring cleaning everyone!

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