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Where Did the Term Spring Cleaning Come From?

Updated on April 7, 2016

What is Spring Cleaning and Where Did it Come From?

Spring cleaning, by definition, is a period in the spring, set aside for cleaning of a home. More commonly, its the practice of thoroughly cleaning a home from top to bottom, during the begining of spring, so that a home is clean during the time of the year when most homes open up for fresh air and ventilation. It is also used to refer to any act of major cleaning, or to someone who gets their affairs in order before a meeting, audit, or inspection.

History Of Spring Cleaning

Although no one knows exactly where the concept of spring cleaning comes from, scholars believe that spring cleaning came about during ancient Jewish tradition of Passover, when Jews would completely clean their houses to prepare for the important holiday. According to Jewish law, during the Passover time, there are strict rules against eating or drinking anything that might be leavened or fermeted with yeast, and are instructed to even rid their homes of even small amounts of chametz (leavened foodstuffs). Observant (orthodox) Jews conduct through inspections of their homes, as well as cleaning the home from top to bottom to rid the home of chametz. Other critics cite that spring cleaning gets its origins from the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians to this day continue a practice known as "khooneh tekouni", or "shaking the house", before the new year. Everything in the house, to include furniture and even drapes, are cleaned. Scotland has similar traditions, with a practice called Hogmanay, which takes place on December 31 of each year. This practice has spread into Ireland, New Zealand, and even to North America.

The North American tradition of spring cleaning finds its roots with the invention of the vacuum cleaner, and the fact that march was one of the best times to dust, as it was warm enough to have the windows and doors of a home open, but still cool enough that insects were not a problem. Because of this, women in the olden days would get together, open a house, and thoroughly clean it after being closed up all winter. This practice still holds true today, with many family's practicing spring cleaning rituals, usually by opening the windows of a home to get air in, and thoroughly cleaning and going through ones items and belongings, cleaning, and discarding any trash. This is also a great time for people to give the inside of their homes a fresh new look, with people re-arranging their home, and moving items allows interior painting to be accomplished.


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