Finally the chill of winter begins to leave the bones here in Scandinavia.

As the days grow longer and we wake from winter’s melatonin-induced stupor, we rediscover the energy to clean.

I'm certainly not alone in this strange desire to clean your house. 

It’s kind of an unconscious, collective movement.

Exactly why do we traditionally clean our homes at the beginning of spring?

Spring's cleaning is an ancient custom,

taking place each year at that time when the days begin to lengthen and we emerge from our cold-weather stupor ready to freshen up our caves (homes). 

In many places around the world, it’s about much more than just getting your actual house clean.

A top-to-bottom, thorough house cleaning (which, depending on where you live, may not always take place in the spring) is often a tangible representation of changes happening within. 

Exactly why do we traditionally clean our homes at the beginning of spring?

Those of us in the Western world may be surprised to find that it’s possibly rooted in customs found in the East. 

All of these traditions extend far­ back into the distant past.

For many cultures, the new year and spring coincide.

The reasons behind why we spring clean are rooted in two competing cultures: Jewish and Iranian.

A third, the Chinese, also have a similar custom.

Thoroughly cleaning your home rids it of the bad luck of the past year and gets it ready to fill with the good luck sure to follow in the new one. 

Regardless of the origin of the tradition, Spring is the best time of the year to dust and clean the home without worrying about insects in our northern hemisphere.
Moreover, the winds are still strong. So in old days it was enough just to open all the windows and doors in the house to blow out the dust by the winds. No vacuum cleaner needed.

Our days Spring Cleaning

In our days, Spring Cleaning has a broader definition.

To some people, Spring Cleaning involves meticulously cleaning every area of the home from ceiling to the floor.

And the Sweedish "Death Cleaning" (döstädning) tradition was the trend of the trends in 2017.

There is even a book "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" by Margareta Magnusson.

Swedish Death Cleaning - döstädning

It doesn't sound that scary when you pronounse it in Swedish “döstädning” (destedning) “dö” = death, “städning” = cleaning.

The author of the book went through the numerous house cleanings after the death of her older relatives.

For that generation, it was usual to accumulate a lot of stuff and memories in the house.

And as the concept of inheriting something from your older family members is no longer relevant in the western society; it becomes a kind of a burden to arrange a house cleaning and find a solution for what to do with all the things.

To the extent that there are services that come and collect all the belongings for free (pack everything down and take it away).

What is worth something will usually be sold on a flea markets.


So the actual death cleaning is transformed into the idea that you start slowly getting rid of or repurposing your possessions.

You will find that it’s targeted primary at people over the age of 50.

However, this is a natural stage in the life cycle in Scandinavia.

Usually, the kids move out of the house, and you start looking for a smaller place to move into.

It means that moving from something around 100-200 m2 to a flat 70 m2.

You simply physically will not be able to fit all your accumulated belonging into the new space.

And yes, it does take time to go through and sort all your belongings.

You are still working full time at this age, so what you have of the time slots for doing this is limited.

I’ve heard from people telling that it took them two years at least, and at the end they are just giving up and donating everything to the Red Cross.

So yes, the Death Cleaning does catch your attention, but it’s nothing more than the usual  downsizing your belongings so it will be easier for you to move to a smaller space when you get older.

For those who take a more casual view of the tradition, Spring Cleaning simply involves storing winter clothes.

During our spring cleaning, we will sort kid’s winter clothes away and put the spring wardrobe on the Hookie hangers.

Regardless of your approach to Spring Cleaning, statistics show that the coming of warmer weather and more sunlight makes over half of the adult population want to clean their residential space.

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