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Do people in every culture feel the sudden urge to clean in springtime?


Mopping Optional
Maybe your "spring cleaning" for the year involves getting healthier?
Maybe your "spring cleaning" for the year involves getting healthier?
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

The phrase "spring cleaning" has come to mean more than just cleaning your house. Sometimes, people use the time to put their finances in order or to get healthier. It's also about rebirth and renewal, so others take the opportunity to clear away the "clutter" in their minds and spirits. Ever heard the phrase "cleanliness is next to godliness"? Often, the season coincides with the beginning of a new year, depending on where people live. New year, new season -- it's time to do all kinds of housecleaning!

So while not everybody feels the need to purge their attic of old junk (assuming they have drapes and attics), there are plenty of spring cleaning rituals around the world. Two out of the big three monotheistic religions in the world have them. People of the Jewish faith incorporate both the physical cleaning and spiritual cleansing during Passover as they celebrate the ancient Israelites' Exodus from Egypt. Many Christians observe Lent, a period of about 40 days before Easter, which is traditionally a time of spiritual cleansing and renewal of faith.

Not to be outdone, some Eastern religions also have "spring cleaning" holidays. The holiday Rama Navami is all about the message of dharma -- righteousness in thoughts and deeds. It celebrates the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, considered by Hindus to be the embodiment of the perfect person. People do clean their homes, but they also clear their minds through fasting in order to focus on Rama's teachings.

Buddhists in Japan observe Higan-e on the first day of spring. The word Higan is a euphemism for nirvana and means "the other shore." Observers of this tradition ponder going from the current "shore" of suffering to the peace of enlightenment. Instead of an emphasis on house cleaning, the Buddhist Japanese also clean and decorate the graves of their ancestors.

It's impossible to say whether people in "every" culture engage in some kind of cleaning ritual in the springtime, but there are lots of them all over the world who do. It might not be what you think of as spring cleaning, but it's cleaning all the same.


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