Why do we do it?
Each year, when the weather begins to warm and the birds begin to sing, the windows are thrown open and all the woodland creatures help us sweep and dust and clean our homes with a whistling tune on their tongues.
Or at least, that’s how it is in the movies of our childhood. In actuality we spend whole weekends each spring emptying closets, pulling up dusty rugs, and reorganizing furniture. Humans around the world suddenly begin all of the chores they’ve been putting off all winter, because… well, that’s just what you do.
Daylight and Hibernation
It is no secret that the days are shorter in the Winter and longer in the Summer, but how does that lead to people sweeping, mopping and dusting? The answer might actually be biological.
Way back in time when every human was attached to agriculture, the yearly, monthly, weekly and daily activities were entirely dictated by the seasons. Everyone woke up with the sunrise, did their farming and other work and then went to sleep with the sunset. It only makes sense that as the amount of daylight decreased and the seasons changed, so too did our activities. The lack of daylight and the colder weather prevented certain tasks from getting accomplished until there was more daylight to accomplish them.
There have also been studies that show an overall increase in Melatonin production during Winter months due to a lack of sunshine. Once the season changes, the Melatonin production subsides allowing a more wakeful and energized state. This could also account for the occurence of Spring Cleaning.
Many cultures and religions actually prompt their members to take part in Spring Cleaning, putting social and theological significance on these actions.
It is a Jewish custom at the beginning of Passover to clean the house and search for Chametz (Yeast Bread) in order to avoid ungratefulness. The Catholic Church gives the altars a deep clean each spring on the Thursday before Good Friday. There is a Chinese tradition to clean just before the New Year (which is later than the Western New Year) in order to get rid of any bad fortune that may have accumulated over the winter. In Iran, the two weeks preceding the New Year (Nowruz) is when everyone is tasked with “khane tekani” (shaking the house) in order to refresh and invigorate life.
Whatever the reasons for your cleaning, Spring is upon us and I for one have a lot of work to do. If you are struggling to begin this yearly undertaking, consider starting with the bedroom. An easy task that makes a big difference is washing your pillows. Check out our detailed instructions on how to breathe new life into your pillows.
What are your Spring Cleaning traditions (chores)? Leave a comment below.