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07Apr The Tradition of Spring Cleaning

Ever find yourself with the curious compulsion to completely upend your wardrobe? Scrub the kitchen cupboards or dust the never seen reaches of the top shelves?

Whether you part-take in the ritual of spring cleaning or not, the age-old tradition has been practised for centuries. In fact, the tradition can first be traced back to the early 1800s. Reliant on lamps lit with kerosene or whale oil, and heating provided by wood or coal, it was quite common for household interiors in the 19th century to be left with a fine layer of soot after winter. Naturally, when spring arrived the need for heating was reduced and the temperature was finally warm enough for the windows to be left open and the house aired- the perfect time to invest in a thorough spring clean!

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Ready to sweep away the veil of winter?

The increased sunshine of spring also has a unique impact on our body’s hormone cycles. During winter, the limited hours of daylight trigger an increased level of the Melatonin hormone to be produced. Associated with the circadian sleep rhythm, Melatonin is responsible for making us more tired and lethargic. In spring, as the days lengthen, melatonin production subsides leaving us energized and alert- ready to tackle the spring clean!

Interestingly, the tradition can also find ties within both religious and cultural customs. In Judaism, spring cleaning is linked to Passover in March or April. It is the tradition that, before the start of the holiday, all yeast bread, or chametz, is removed from the home. Commemorating the Jew’s liberation from Egyptian slavery, it is instead unleavened bread that is consumed during this time. Furthermore, in Christianity, the church altar is typically cleaned the day before Good Friday and on the Iranian holiday of Nowruz (falling on the first day of spring), the house is customarily cleaned from top to bottom, and is referred to as "shaking the house".

So there you have it, the mysterious annual urge explained! A curious phenomenon but one that is irrefutably rooted in age-old traditions and customs.


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