Springing Forward to the Vernal Equinox

Humble Abode ® —  February 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

What is it about spring that gives us the urge to clean? All through the northern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, virtually every culture and civilization has a ritual for celebrating spring. One of these rituals or welcoming of this season is cleaning. This has become a cultural meme of sorts.
Northern climates with cold stormy winters keep many indoors for weeks or months at a time. By the time the snow begins to melt and temperatures venture far above freezing, we have an almost instinctual need to freshen our persons and environments. We yearn for fresh air and the promise of warm days to come. Maybe the desire to be clean and invigorated is an inherent trait that we follow nature’s awakening after her winter hibernation.
March has typically been the season for spring cleaning. It has been suggested that March is the month for cleaning as a celebration of the vernal equinox. It may be that as March temperatures rise enough, we open our windows to the crisp air, scattering winter’s remains. Spring also encourages us to reinvigorate ourselves on a personal level. It is a time to recharge. It is a time to eschew bad habits and begin the new season with positive focus.
No one knows where the practice of spring cleaning began, but some rituals go back thousands of years. The Persian New Year, called Norouz, in Farsi, means ‘new day’ or ‘new year’. It is celebrated on the spring equinox and has been celebrated throughout Mesopotamia for thousands of years. Over the millenia, celebrating this New Year involved many different ceremonies and obervances. The one commonality has been the idea of beginning anew, giving gifts in celebration of the new and preparing for the coming year. Part of this wecoming of the new season has been to clean homes. In Scotland, the December 31st celebration of the New Year is called Hogmanay. One of the customs of this ancient ritual is to clean the entire house before midnight on that day as well as taking care of all the previous year’s debts. It is considered bad luck to welcome the New Year in a dirty unclean house with unfinished business. This cleaning of the whole house was called the redding, meaning to get the house ready for the New Year. While this takes place well before the vernal equinox, it may be the origin of one of the traditions that have become what we refer to today as spring cleaning.
As we look forward to welcoming the warming spring weather and look forward to the growing season, devise a game plan for cleaning the home. Look at each room of the house and have a list of what needs to be done. Get the entire family involved and invested in making the home clean and ready for the New Year. Have cleaning supplies and enthusiasm ready! When everyone chips in, the job doesn’t seem quite as large.
Another means for freshening the home is by making a few changes that don’t have to be expensive. A new coat of paint in a new color does wonders for making a room look brand new. The cost of paint and supplies is not a lot of money compared to the benefit of a sparkling new room. The addition of an accessory or two can also transform a room by creating a fresh new look. A new furnishing as simple as a pillow, lamp or small rug can really renew a room. You will feel good about your home as you celebrate the seasons of warmth and growth.
Do you have any ideas for updating or sprucing up a room in the home? What personal traditions do you incorporate in your celebration of spring? Are there any spring cleaning tips you’ve found that help make this time more fun or shortcuts to help lessen the work load?

Humble Abode ®


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