Spring is an invigorating time of year especially for those of us living in climates that have four distinct seasons. Spring brings more sunshine, longer days, and a significant boost in energy. People want to get outside, plant seeds and some (not me) get excited to do deep spring cleaning.
Washing all the walls in the house was a spring ritual most women practiced when I was growing up. I didn't really understand why they were so driven to do this hard work since the walls never seemed dirty to me. My curiosity led me to explore the history of spring cleaning and how it may be applicable in today's world.
Spring cleaning seems to have sprouted from sheer practicality and cultural traditions.
When our ancestors lived in caves the warmer weather let them thoroughly dry out their skins and the longer days provided more light to see just how messy their dwelling had become. In agrarian cultures, spring was a time to get organized, sort seed, plant, and prepare for the busy months ahead of tending the garden, harvesting, and preserving food for the rest of the year. In the past, when homes were heated with wood or coal and lit with candles, it's understandable that as the weather warmed up after a long cold winter the windows would be flung open to let the fresh air in, the dust out and the scrubbing of the soot covered walls would commence.
Jews thoroughly cleaned the house before the spring holiday of Passover to make sure no crumbs of leavened bread were left behind. People of Jewish faith eat matzo (unleavened bread) during this time in remembrance of their emancipation from slavery. Making sure crumbs of leaven bread are not left behind is done out of reverence to their faith and God. Iranians have a spring tradition called khaneh takani or "shaking the house". In preparation for the impending spring and their new year, houses are thoroughly scrubbed to encourage regeneration and optimism for the new season.
I'm going to assume that this article didn't inspire you to grab a bucket and start scrubbing! But it can be a worthwhile exercise to explore how can we incorporate the annual practice of cleaning out the old, welcoming the new and shaking things up a bit in our lives to reflect the optimism, energy, and growth so evident in spring.
Some things to think about:
- What old: thoughts, beliefs, behaviors do you need to scrub?
- What new practices can you begin that will generate optimism and growth ?
- What seeds of thoughts or behaviors can you plant that will reap great benefits?
May you embody the energy of the budding daffodils who find their way through the snow and frost to blossom into sheer beauty.