Top 5 World Spring Cleaning Traditions


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Quema del Diablo

Not all "spring cleaning" takes place in the spring. By that I mean that for some places, the big cleaning rituals happen at other times of the year. One of the most shocking to those who don't know about it is the Quema del Diablo, which happens on December 7 each year in Guatemala. Many Guatemalans follow the Christmas traditions of caroling, decorating their houses with lights and trees, and exchanging gifts. And if you happened to visit around that time, you'd see a man in a red suit. He's not Santa Claus, though; he's the devil.

Quema del Diablo means "burning of the devil." He's believed to lurk under beds, in corners and in piles of junk. To get the nasty guy out of your house, you have to clean it thoroughly, sweeping all of your garbage outdoors into a huge pile. Some people just set the pile ablaze, while others top it with a big papier mache effigy of Satan first, dressed in a red outfit with black hair and a black beard. Some cities have communal Quema del Diablo bonfires, complete with music and fireworks. Who knew that house cleaning could end with such a party? It's all about getting rid not only of the trash and the evil that goes along with it, but finding some spiritual cleanliness before the holy holidays arrive.

Author's Note: Top 5 World Spring Cleaning Traditions

I like to think of myself as pretty knowledgeable about various cultures and traditions, but I learned a lot while researching this article. I even took a religion course in college that included Judaism, and I don't remember learning about the importance of getting rid of the chametz before Passover. I knew about some of the other celebrations and festivals mentioned here but not always about the emphasis on cleaning out. Still, it wasn't a big surprise that for many people, spring cleaning is about much more than just getting rid of junk and dirt. It's also meant to symbolize clearing out the cobwebs in the mind and soul. And sometimes it clears the way for good times ahead, too. I think that the Quema del Diablo sounds like a fun party, although some environmentalists take issue with the clouds of black smoke billowing throughout Guatemala due to the bonfires. Go figure.

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Sources

  • Armstrong, Luke Maguire. "The Burning of a Devil in Guatemala." Perceptive Travel. 2010. (March 16, 2012) http://www.perceptivetravel.com/issues/0210/guatemala.html
  • Chabad.org. "Operation Zero Chametz." Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. 2012. (March 16, 2012) http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1753/jewish/Operation-Zero-Chametz.htm
  • CLAL Faculty. "Removing Chametz From A Home On Passover." This Ritual Life: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. 2000. (March 16, 2012) http://www.clal.org/rl22.html
  • Edulgee, K.E. "Spring Cleaning or Khaneh-Tekani." Zoroastrian Heritage Institute. 2012. (March 16, 2012) http://heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/nowruz/nowruz2.htm
  • Nguyen, Diana. "Lunar New Year Cleaning Tips." Stylelist.com. Jan. 22, 2012. (March 10, 2012) http://www.stylelist.com/2012/01/20/lunar-new-year-cleaning tips_n_1219974.html
  • Ordonez, Juan Carlos. "The Devil Gets His Due." Revue Magazine. 2004. (March 15, 2012) http://old.revuemag.com/article201.html
  • Parker-Pope, Tara. "Cleaning up for Chinese New Year." The New York Times. Jan. 26, 2009. (March 16, 2012) http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/cleaning-up-for-chinese-new-year/
  • Persian Mirror. "Khaneh-Tekani." 2004. (March 15, 2012) http://www.persianmirror.com/celebrations/noruz/noruz.cfm
  • Thompson, Nick. "Water fight! Soaked at Thailand's Songkran's Festival." CNN. April 18, 2011. (March 15, 2012) http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/14/thailand.songkran.festival/index.html
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand, Songkran Splendours. "History of Songkran." 2010. (March 16, 2012) http://songkran.tourismthailand.org/history.php

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