Why is it Called Spring Cleaning?
There really doesn’t seem to be one *set* explanation for the term *spring cleaning*, here are a few of the possible explanations of how the tradition of a deep *spring clean* started.
Today *spring cleaning* means it’s the process of deep cleaning your house, it can also be used as a metaphor for simplifying our lives, but the real meaning of spring cleaning is a little more mysterious. Some claim it is a practice of Hebrew culture that has a religious significance while others claim it is a tradition from China or Iran, while others think there is a more logical and scientific reason to why we spring clean.
The term *Spring cleaning* in English dates back to 1855-1860, but the act of spring cleaning began way back in the distant past and is a tradition all over the world.
IRAN – shaking the house clean. Iran celebrates New Year with rituals and customs that date back to before the country’s current Islamic culture. March 21 the day of the vernal equinox is the first day of the solar cycle – where there are more minutes of daylight per day than darkness. It’s on this day that Iranians celebrate Now Rouz – the Persian New Year. For two weeks Iranians decorate their houses and streets with symbols of burning and planting to signify renewal. It’s a time of optimism for a new season and a time to reinvigorate and refresh one’s life. Khooneh Takouni – meaning *Shaking the house* is a custom that sees Iranians buying new clothes, and cleaning every corner of the house – nothing is missed. The scent of flowers in vases cleans the air while rugs, bedding, curtains, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, cupboards, ornaments and shelves are given a thorough clean. With the house *shaken* Now Rouz can start and spring can arrive again.
PASSOVER – Then there is the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleaning the home before the springtime memorial feasts of Passover, which is one of the most important festivals of the Jewish year. The Jewish people remember how the children of Israel escaped being slaves to the Pharaoh, God promised 10 plagues unless his people were let go. Before the final plague began God told his people to mark their doorposts with lamb’s blood he would then know which houses to spare – to *pass over*. Today Jews must clean their homes of any remains of food – they do this by *spring cleaning* their home.
CHINA – in China people believe that spring cleaning in preparation for the new year brings good luck. At the end of the year, Chinese homes are cleaned from top to bottom – they sweep floors and wash and clean their homes to remove any bad luck and misfortune. Once homes are clean they welcome good luck into their homes by not sweeping for a number of days at the beginning of the new year. This is to stop any good luck that has just entered the home from being swept away.
ANCIENT MAN – The scientific reason for spring cleaning is that in ancient times during the time when days were shorter and darker the pineal glands produced melatonin – a hormone that induces sleep. For ancient man his lack of exposure to light would have led to their bodies becoming slower. During spring as the days grew longer melatonin levels dropped and their energy recovered. Throughout winter dirt would have gathered in their huts and caves and with the warm weather bacteria would grow. With their energy restored they gave their homes a *spring clean* as a natural way to avoid diseases and infections.
In general it just makes sense to spring clean, during winter houses are usually kept shut tight to keep out the cold, houses are warm inside, so when spring arrives and the days are longer and brighter, it’s the perfect time to open windows and doors, dust can be cleaned out, winter bedding washed and packed away. A good clean right through and your home is smelling clean and fresh again.
Perhaps around the world, so many people and cultures have celebrations that revolve around spring cleaning – simply because it’s a good time of the year to give your home an all-over clean?