The Traditions of Spring Cleaning

Is Cleanliness Really Next to Godliness?

For thousands of years different cultures have used different methods to keep their houses clean and fresh. From the early ancient civilisations across the world different cultures have always had a time of year and an almost ritualistic approach to brushing out the cobwebs and cleaning their homes. Is it not strange that different cultures share this same ‘ritual’ of spring cleaning and I say ritual because it seems that there were some religious implications attached to ‘spring cleaning’ in general.

We have seen in ancient China, the way they created soap from animal fat and plants for bathing and personal hygiene and they also celebrated the new year as a ‘spring clean’. Jewish Arabs throughout the Middle East, who at every year during the Passover, had a ritual cleansing of their homes, which they are required to clean out any bread crumbs of unleavened bread on the same night which was called the ‘bedikat chametz’– ‘crumbs by candlelight’- a ritual to search for any breadcrumbs throughout the house.

The tradition of spring cleaning can be traced back even further to the Persians who’s yearly ritual of ‘khooneh tekouni’’ which literally means ‘shaking the house’ pre-dated to the time of Zoroastrianism, “khooneh tekouni” is still practiced today, its roots planted firmly in religious beliefs.

Pagans believed that the ritual cleansing by fire was something that needed to be done on a yearly basis as they would burn old crops and forest to make way for new growth, something which has remained in today’s cultures across the world.

The middle ages in Europe were late in adopting ‘spring cleaning’ and it was only after the advent of the Great Plague in c1665-66 in which many tens of thousands of people suffered as did they not fully understand the way the plague was transmitted through fleas on rats and ships at the docks. Eventually, during modern Victorian times, people tended to clean out the soot filled chimneys once a year around spring. Easter and spring were synonymous and we see the ‘religious’ connection to other ritual practices.

The Japanese have their version of a spring clean too and they call it ‘Osoji’ which predated the old traditions of ‘susu-harai’- ‘soot cleaning’ during the Edo period which was to welcome the ‘Toshigami’–gods of the new year.

So…If you are religious or not, or follow any particular belief, cleanliness does seem to be next to godliness! If you feel Godly, or just want to get rid of some of the cobwebs throughout, give us a call on 020 8698 6953 today!

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