Yesterday I got an email from my utilities provider asking me to volunteer as part of a spring cleaning project during which citizens pick up trash, paint over graffiti, and perform other tasks in an effort to beautify our urban neighborhood. So clearly, the city of Seattle still does their own version of spring cleaning, but does anyone else?
The origins of spring cleaning are open to debate, but according to Wikipedia, the Persian New Year, known as Iranian Norouz, may be one of the earliest iterations. On the first day of spring, Iranians would do a full house cleaning.But like many widely-adopted practices, the origins are not quite clear. Some claim that spring cleaning is a Jewish custom that is practiced in the run up to Passover. The Chinese have also been cited as the founders of spring cleaning, to dispel bad luck from their homes. Even the Catholic Church is in the running with the practice of thoroughly cleaning the altar on Maundy Thursday.
But perhaps the rationale isn’t grounded in history or religion, but rather, weather. In climates that experience distinct seasons, spring offers the chance to throw open the doors and windows and let fresh air circulate through spaces that have been securely closed for months on end. In decades past in the United States and other countries, women were raised to do a thorough spring cleaning of their homes. This included shaking out rugs, taking down drapes and cleaning them, and washing the windows both inside and out.
As I look around my own home, there are some areas that could use a once-over: high shelves with decorative items that haven’t seen a dust cloth in quite some time; a mattress that should be rotated; a closet that could use a clean-out. The place I should really focus my attention, however, is the rented storage unit my husband and I leased when we moved to Seattle almost ten years ago. Just typing that makes me realize we probably don’t need the contents anymore. After all, how often have we fetched things from it since we got to town? Infrequently, that's how often.
Maybe I’ll drag the hubby down there in the coming weeks or maybe I’ll adopt Amelia Bedelia’s approach to spring cleaning. When asked to draw the drapes, she did just that, with her sketch pad and pencil. She dusted the furniture with a light coating of powder and dressed the roast in a fetching outfit. That sounds right to me.