Although spring technically starts towards the end of March, most people associate the season change with the first day of the month. Spring brings a lot of lively holidays and traditions to the year from St. Patrick’s Day, to Easter, to Cinco de Mayo. It’s also the time of Spring Cleaning, the act of giving a space a thorough cleaning, in a way that isn’t typically done during average clean up occasions. Spring Cleaning is a popular notion that many people participate in every year at work and at home, but what is the history behind this well-known concept? In this post we’ll go over the interesting beliefs and history that’s tied to the origin of Spring Cleaning.
Religious significance of Spring Cleaning
Spring Cleaning is thought to be linked to Passover through Jewish religion. This religious holiday commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Before Passover, a thorough cleaning of the home is carried out in preparation. This is done to clean up any crumbs left over from yeast-made bread, or chametz, a humble bread Jewish slaves in Egypt were fed to keep them alive. In order to appease God and communicate gratitude for survival, it is important not to leave any bread behind. Leaving even crumbs is thought to show ungratefulness for one’s life, according to an article by HowStuffWorks.
A Heavy Coal-Burning Era may have also started this cleaning tradition
During the Victorian Era, the frigid cold temperatures of winter required households to burn through large sums of coal and oil to stay warm. Due to this, by the end of the season the interior of homes would be engulfed in a layer of soot, dust, and grease from lamps and fireplaces. Once the weather began to warm during spring, it was time to clean up all that soot that was left behind after winter had passed. The tradition to clean one’s home after winter, became engrained in society’s culture even after the Victorian Era ended and new heating methods and technology were introduced, according to an article by Bob Vila.
A biological reason we spring clean
An article by Allergy Standards states that there’s actually a scientific reason behind why people tend to clean vigorously during springtime. There’s a part of the human brain that is responsible the production of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is what makes us feel tired and in need of rest. Because this part of our brain responds to darkness, the shortened daylight of winter months cause us to lack energy and may result in putting off tasks and chores as our brains get used to the change. When spring arrives, our brains can get a jolt of energy from the increased daylight absorption. This newfound energy may be directed towards taking care of chores, such as cleaning the house with full throttle.
Perhaps all three ideas have lead to what we know today as Spring Cleaning. Whatever the reason, it has become an annual phenomenon that’s been around for hundreds of years and isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Even if there’s no reason at all, anytime is a good time to give your space a thorough clean whether it’s in the spring or not. If you’re ready to dive into some Spring Cleaning for your space but don’t know where to begin, feel free to check out ways to organize the process in our other post here.
Royalty-free artwork was provided by talented artist Catherine Kay Greenup, who painted a woman resembling her grandmother, a kitchen maid during the Victorian era.