It’s spring time and after all the rains and cold weather, nature is calling to all of us to come outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I imagine that every year, for thousands of years, it has been the same. Spring comes and all we want to do is take time off to go outside and enjoy. If this is the case, then why has mankind, rather than answering this call to make the great escape, chosen to engage in furiously cleaning everything they own from top to bottom every time spring rolls around? What is “spring cleaning” and who came up with it?
I have to admit that this year, as much as I want to get outside and enjoy the birds singing and the sunshine, I also have an urge to empty everything out of my closets and paint my master bath! I began to do some research as to where this “spring cleaning” comes from and found that there does seem to be some logic to it. After all, who wants to paint their house when it is snowing? Spring seems to be the perfect time to get all of that work done. The weather is neither freezing nor roasting. In the sunny Southern California mountains where I live, the weather ranges from over 110 degrees Fahrenheit to 12 degrees. Spring and fall seem to be the only times of the year where it is comfortable to do any sort of house work without the aid of air conditioning and heating.
So why spring and not fall? Some have suggested that the reason we clean in the spring is biological. Because of the reduced sunlight we are exposed to during winter, we have more melatonin that is produced by our pineal glands resulting in sleepiness. When spring rolls around, the extra sunlight causes a reduced melatonin level allowing us to “wake up” and desire to do the things we’ve been putting off all winter. That certainly rings true for me. This spring I suddenly have an urge to get out and run in the field across the street from my house, break out the jet ski, and sand blast the peeling texture coating from my house.
The wisdom of cleaning in the spring rather than the fall is partially because you have just come out of the cold of winter. Historically, during the cold months, the yuck and muck would have been building up in mattresses, rugs, drapes, blankets…you name it. Imagine yourself, in the dead of winter, washing these items without the convenience of electric dryers and vacuum cleaners? Mattresses once upon a time were made with straw tick or other natural materials. In order to clean these, they would typically wait for spring to replace the old fillings with fresh dry hay, etc. Rugs would be taken out in the sunshine and beaten to loosen the debris and expose them to fresh air. Laundry would be washed and hung out to dry. I imagine it was much more comfortable to clean any number of things in the temperate weather of spring. In 2012, it’s difficult to comprehend cleaning without Windex, Pledge, Easy Off, vacuum cleaners, or electric washers and dryers. I have a great respect for our ancestors who did this work day in and day out, year after year, without the aid of modern conveniences. I certainly respect their wisdom to save the bulk of it for the right time of the year.
There appear to be some religious and cultural ties to spring cleaning. From ancient times in Israel, just prior to Passover (Pesach), the people would rid their homes of any leavened food products as a remembrance of their hasty flight from captivity in Egypt. Observant Jews continue today to thoroughly “spring clean” their homes followed by a removal of even small crumbs of leavened food on the evening before Passover begins. The ancient Catholic tradition of thoroughly cleaning your home the first three days after Palm Sunday seems to have been converted from the Jewish tradition. In Greece and other Orthodox nations, many observe Clean Week, a week of spring cleaning occurring before the first week of Great Lent. In China and Iran, spring cleaning was observed in connection with their new year. The Iranian practice, literally translated, means “shaking the house.” I do not know whether or not our “spring cleaning” comes directly from these cultural and religious practices, but it is fascinating that so many different places and peoples value cleaning at this time of year enough that it has become part of their tradition, both modern and ancient.
So here we are, during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter according to the Gregorian calendar. What better time to break out the cleaning tools, dump out those closets, fill up those bags for the Salvation Army, paint that master bath, and sandblast that house! While you are at it, why not give us a call at America’s Best and have us come out to make those windows sparkle and freshen that house or pool deck with a pressure wash in preparation for all the fun you are going to have during the hot months ahead. Let us come repair or replace your missing screens so you can fling wide those windows and doors and enjoy this beautiful world God has made for us.
- Happy Easter and have a blessed Passover from America’s Best, Inc.
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