It’s that time of year again, the distant memories of Christmas wrapping paper and turkey have long been replaced with Valentine’s Day flowers and chocolates and shortly daffodils and Easter eggs will take over as we head into spring.
What does spring mean?
Well for many spring is the time for a good old thorough clean. Whether you dread the hours of cleaning grime and grease, scrubbing floors on your hands and knees and the big wash of curtains, bedding and rugs, or you get a thrill from knowing you’ll have a sparkling home or office, the big clean is coming!
So where did it all begin? When did we start obsessing over crumbs under furniture and cobwebs in cupboards?
Some believe that the annual cleaning tradition originated from the Jewish community, where homes are cleaned inside out in the lead up to the Jewish festival of Passover, which commemorates the liberation of Israelites from Egyptian slavery. As the slaves were fed yeast free bread, it is considered inappropriate to have yeast bread in the home in the run up to Passover and so many clean the house in order to rid the home of bread crumbs containing yeast.
Others believe that the big clean started in Iran. The Iranian New Year or Nowruz, which falls on March 21, the first day of spring, symbolises a time of hope for the year ahead. Burning waste and planting new flowers signifies rejuvenation. Khane takani which translates to ‘shaking the house’, means every nook and cranny is swept and scrubbed to renew the home for a fresh start to the New Year.
Similarly, in Chinese culture, spring cleaning takes place shortly before the New Year. Homes are cleaned to rid any bad luck or misfortune that may have accumulated during the year, ready for the good luck and optimism that the New Year brings.
Historically when we heated our homes with coal and wood, spring time meant a time to clear the home of soot, ash and dust. Walls were washed and rugs were beaten and linen aired.
A more modern explanation of purging in spring, could be down to our hormone balance. During winter, when we are exposed to less sunlight, we produce more melatonin, a hormone which induces sleepiness. As we leave winter behind and the days become longer and warmer, we spring into action as we emerge from our sleepy hibernation.
So what does spring cleaning mean today?
Maybe a change of wardrobe to match the change of seasons.
Perhaps to update the décor. With inexpensive furniture, paint and upholstery so readily available, DIY has never been so easy.
Or maybe we’ve become such a hygiene conscious society that we can’t bear the thought of dust mites or bacteria multiplying and spreading around our homes and offices.