….and you know what that means?
Yup… bet you thought I was going to say flowers.
Well.. they are definitely a part of spring… and they are definitely what we do…. but today, I’m talking about cleaning. Spring Cleaning! We’ve all heard the term, and I’m sure we’ve all been swept up in it (pun!) at some point in our lives. I know every year I am!
But do you know where the term actually comes from?
The reasons behind why we spring clean are rooted in two competing cultures, Jewish and Iranian with a third close behind with the Chinese, who also have a similar custom. All of these traditions extend far back into the distant past.
In Iran, the new year arrives on March 21 the spring equinox and the celebration of the new year lasts two weeks. The customs, rituals and symbolism are rooted in the culture’s ancient pre-Islamic past. The new year is a time of regeneration for Iranians; they use symbols like burning and planting to signify renewal and optimism for a new season. It’s also a time for refreshing and reinvigorating life, and that includes Iranians’ houses.The ritual is called Khaneh Takani (“shaking the house”) and the custom lives up to its name. Iranians traditionally buy new clothes to wear, every bit of a home is scoured and cleaned…. nothing is spared. Rugs, drapes bedding, knick-knacks, floors, ceilings — everything gets a good cleaning. Fresh scented flowers are brought in to renew the house’s vibrancy. Once the house is shaken, the new year and spring, can arrive.
The Jewish holiday of Passover (Pesach) is a time of house cleaning as well. The very solemn holiday marks the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. After the 10 plagues were brought upon the Egyptian king by Moses the Jews were finally released from slavery and ordered to leave the land. There was very little time to get ready so the breads they were baking to bring on their journey only were able to be cooked for 18 minutes. That became what is known as Matzah and during Passover, keeping leavened bread (chametz) which is any item made with yeast or a grain that can rise, is forbidden.
Since making sure that no leavened bread remains in the home during Passover is so important, even overlooked crumbs count. To this end, Jews scour their homes from top to bottom before Passover to ensure they don’t miss a crum. No corner is to be left untouched and all chametz is either given away or sold so as not to ‘own’ it during Passover. For those 8 days different dishes, silverware, cookware are used and only foods without any leavening are eaten. Since Passover comes around April, many people consider this custom as the origin of spring cleaning.
The Chinese, also have of a spring cleaning ritual. They clean their homes in anticipation of the new year by sweeping their floors and cleaning their homes to be rid of bad luck and misfortune that may have accumulated during the previous year. Once the house is clean, the Chinese then welcome good fortune in by observing a prohibition against sweeping for the few days following the new year in order to prevent sweeping away any good fortune that came with the turn of the year.
After all that cleaning I think we should head for the garden to do some spring planting. Wanna join me?
Now go out and have yourself a wholesale, flower-filled, spring day!