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The human compulsion for a spring clean

Cleaning,Concept,With,Supplies

This article was first published in the May/June 2023 issue of IQ, the exclusive magazine for Mensa members. Find out more about becoming a Mensa member here.

The tradition of spring cleaning has deep historical roots – all over the world 

The arrival of spring sees many of us fling open the windows and clear away the dust, mess and clutter accumulated in the winter months. Yet this is not a modern phenomenon – spring cleaning has a long history that can be traced back to ancient civilisations with links to several religious and cultural practices.

In the Persian empire, it was traditional to thoroughly clean the home for the Persian new year or Nowruz, which falls on the first day of the spring – a custom that is still observed by many Iranians today. The practice also has links to ancient Jewish culture in the ritual of cleaning the house in the lead-up to Passover.

In Chinese culture, spring cleaning was traditionally carried out in the days before the Lunar New Year, thought to sweep away bad luck and welcome good fortune into their lives for the coming year. And an ancient Catholic tradition saw the three days after Palm Sunday dedicated to cleaning the house and the church on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

Spring cleaning has obvious, practical benefits, particularly in colder climates where windows are often shut throughout much of winter to keep out the cold. With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, it seems only natural to open windows and doors, letting in fresh air and sunlight and clearing the dust.

Cultural traditions surrounding spring cleaning might also have their roots in human psychology. We all know the feeling of hope that comes with the arrival of spring: we feel energised, like we can start anew and do things differently.

Research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests we are more likely to feel motivated to complete goals on ‘socially meaningful dates’, such as the first day of spring, a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “the fresh start effect”. Psychologist Dr Jonathan Fader has also said that carrying out spring cleaning is associated with improved mood, decreased stress, and heightened creativity, and even encourages us to take charge of our general health, especially our weight.

You might be dreading getting out the vacuum cleaner and dusters this spring – just remember you are observing an ancient human tradition, not to mention potentially doing wonders for your mental wellbeing!

Declutter and spark joy!

Check out the KonMari Method, devised by Marie Kondo, for those seeking a clutter-free life. 

The lazy person’s guide to spring cleaning

Are you in the ‘life’s too short’ camp? This one’s for you.

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The human compulsion for a spring clean

This article was first published in the May/June 2023 issue of IQ, the exclusive magazine for Mensa members. Find out more about becoming a Mensa member here.

The tradition of spring cleaning has deep historical roots – all over the world 

The arrival of spring sees many of us fling open the windows and clear away the dust, mess and clutter accumulated in the winter months. Yet this is not a modern phenomenon – spring cleaning has a long history that can be traced back to ancient civilisations with links to several religious and cultural practices.

In the Persian empire, it was traditional to thoroughly clean the home for the Persian new year or Nowruz, which falls on the first day of the spring – a custom that is still observed by many Iranians today. The practice also has links to ancient Jewish culture in the ritual of cleaning the house in the lead-up to Passover.

In Chinese culture, spring cleaning was traditionally carried out in the days before the Lunar New Year, thought to sweep away bad luck and welcome good fortune into their lives for the coming year. And an ancient Catholic tradition saw the three days after Palm Sunday dedicated to cleaning the house and the church on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

Spring cleaning has obvious, practical benefits, particularly in colder climates where windows are often shut throughout much of winter to keep out the cold. With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, it seems only natural to open windows and doors, letting in fresh air and sunlight and clearing the dust.

Cultural traditions surrounding spring cleaning might also have their roots in human psychology. We all know the feeling of hope that comes with the arrival of spring: we feel energised, like we can start anew and do things differently.

Research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests we are more likely to feel motivated to complete goals on ‘socially meaningful dates’, such as the first day of spring, a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “the fresh start effect”. Psychologist Dr Jonathan Fader has also said that carrying out spring cleaning is associated with improved mood, decreased stress, and heightened creativity, and even encourages us to take charge of our general health, especially our weight.

You might be dreading getting out the vacuum cleaner and dusters this spring – just remember you are observing an ancient human tradition, not to mention potentially doing wonders for your mental wellbeing!

Declutter and spark joy!

Check out the KonMari Method, devised by Marie Kondo, for those seeking a clutter-free life. 

The lazy person’s guide to spring cleaning

Are you in the ‘life’s too short’ camp? This one’s for you.

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