Spring Cleaning

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Spring Cleaning

Old European folk traditions taught people to prepare for Easter by giving their homes a thorough cleaning. They rolled up rugs, carried them outside and beat them to remove dirt and dust. Sofas, upholstered chairs, and mattresses were also aired out and beaten. Families washed windows, laundered curtains, and waxed floors. In some places people scheduled this cleaning for the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week. In medieval times the Thursday of Holy Week, called "Clean Thursday" in some places, served as the day on which to bathe, wash clothes, and perform other personal grooming chores in preparation for Easter (see also Maundy Thursday).

Several other religious and folk traditions recommend house cleaning as a means of preparing for a major spring holiday. Jewish religious teachings insist that the faithful clean their homes thoroughly in preparation for Passover. Tradition requires them to pay particular attention to removing all traces of leavened foods, down to the smallest crumb. Persians and other Middle Easterners who celebrate the new year festival called No Ruz also prepare by cleaning their homes. Rooted in the ancient Zoroastrian religion, the No Ruz festival, celebrated around the time of the spring equinox, originally commemorated the creation of the world as we know it and honored the god Ahura Mazda.

These spring house cleanings may be viewed as part of a purification process that prepares people to invite the sacred into their lives during these holy festivals. In contemporary American culture the idea of spring cleaning, severed from its religious roots, has passed into the realm of folk tradition. Especially in cold northern climates, the lengthening days and warmer weather make spring an especially good time for any cleaning process that involves going outdoors. If cold weather has kept the family cooped up inside all winter long, then the interior of the home may need a good cleaning as well.

Further Reading

Griffin, Robert H., and Ann H. Shurgin, eds. The Folklore of World Holidays. Second edition. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1999. Weiser, Francis X. The Easter Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.

Web Site

"Iranian New Year No Ruz," an article by Massoume Price, posted at: http://www. iranonline.com/festivals/Iranian-new-year/index.html

What does it mean when you dream about spring cleaning?

As the entry on spring suggests, the dreamer is cleaning out old ideas and may actually be physically preparing themselves for new business, relationships, and new beginnings in their life.

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