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Spring Cleaning, Who Thought of it?

The sun shines brighter, and the days are warmer; the birds awaken me every morning. And suddenly, a rush of energy gets me motivated to purge and clean. Is it the change in season provoking this surge? Or is there more to "Spring Cleaning" than the phrase?

After doing a little bit of research, I found some interesting stories that have given me something to ponder as I dust, clean, scrub, and purge my way through April.

It turns out Spring Cleaning is an age-old tradition that's rooted in religious and cultural traditions and possibly linked to our biology.

Some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. It is the custom to thoroughly clean everything in the house, from the drapes to the furniture. Jewish custom links spring cleaning to Passover, which takes place in early spring. Members of the Greek Orthodox church celebrate "Clean Week," a week of cleaning before Lent. In Christian custom, the Catholics clean the church altar the day before Good Friday, generally in March or April. Chinese New Year preparations incorporate a spring housecleaning called Little New Year, or Xiaonian, designed to symbolically rid their home of any negativity and any lingering spirits.

During the 1800s in America, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors and not worry about insects, and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. This time of year is also when coal furnaces wouldn't run, and one could wash the soot from the walls and furniture left by the stove.

Although we humans don't hibernate like bears, winter makes us sleepier and sluggish due to fewer hours of daylight triggering melatonin release in our brains, causing sleepiness. During colder months it is understandable that we lack the energy to "deep clean" . But as days start getting longer, we're energized by more sunlight, and melatonin production subsides.

Surprisingly, Spring Cleaning has some health benefits:

  • Decreased Allergens: This is one of the most compelling reasons for a thorough spring cleaning session.

  • Exercise: According to the Calorie Control Council, one hour of housecleaning can burn 205 calories.

  • Healthy Diet: Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that study individuals placed in a clean, organized room were more likely to choose healthier snack options than those in a messy space.

  • Psychological Benefits: A cluttered environment has been associated with higher levels of stress. According to one Scottish Health Survey, cleaning itself proves to cut stress and anxiety by 20 percent.

  • Better Sleep: Cleaning contributes to better sleep: One National Sleep Foundation survey uncovered that you have a 19 percent higher chance of restful sleep by making your bed.

This April, as I open windows, move furniture around, purge closets, I will play some dance music, light some scented candles, and let life and light back into my home.


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