Spring cleaning has been all the rage for centuries. The spring equinox brings with it a crisp air tinged with a promise of warmth to come. During the 19th century in America, the month of March was considered the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open doors and windows (but still cold enough for insects to not be a problem), and the gentle spring winds could carry the dust out of the house. There are other historical backdrops for spring cleaning that have been put forth. It has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the Iranian Norouz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khooneh tekouni [shaking the house] just before the new year. Another possibility of the origin of spring cleaning can be traced to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time memorial feast of Passover.
Spring cleaning has become such a part of the American experience there are numerous checklist –seriously-for conducting the annual cleaning. Even Martha Stewart has a checklist (http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2007Q2/la_0407_spring_cleaning.pdf). On ones of the websites, a reader asked “is it too early to start my spring cleaning” Well, is it ever too early ort too late to clean out one’s junk-household, psychological and spiritual?
I just went to a real estate agent to start the conversation about possibly selling my house. I know, it geos against the American dream. See I am not thinking of selling my current house to buy another. I am thinking of selling my house to then rent. Ah, the horror-I have seen in some people’s eyes when I discuss this with them. To some, what I am considering doing is completely unfathomable. You can see people’s thought bubbles going “are you crazy? Don’t you want an investment? Renting? That’s just giving money away….” If you knew how much I paid in monthly property taxes-you wouldn’t think those thoughts. I am giving money away to the local government so that we can have no proper sidewalks, so that they can tell us what we can or cannot build on our property and so on. The American Dream is all about home ownership-but do we really own what we have? Ok, I have gone into my bureaucracy rant. That wasn’t the purpose of this diatribe. So, I went to a real estate agent and now I have to clean out –de-clutter-my house so that I can stage it for others to be able to see themselves living here. It just so happens to coincide with the autumn equinox and it got me thinking about spring cleaning.
It is now officially Autumn and it is truly one of my favorite seasons-not only because Halloween occurs then but because the nights are a little crispy, there is this wild cool feeling in the early morning and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of orange and yellow. It just gives one a very warm fuzzy feeling. Plus, in the fall, kids go back to school and start their school year. If they are starting their learning year why can’t us adults use the fall equinox to cleanse and enhance ourselves as well? On the fall equinox, the amount of day and night are virtually equal providing a perfect time to do some introspection. As I have cleaned, I have found myself asking “do I need this? Why did I ever get this in the first place? What could I use this for?” Couldn’t one apply those same questions to one’s personal, psychical, and work life? Hmm?
Back when I was a child, my mother actually had some autumn or fall equinox traditions/ rituals which is was reminded of when I looked up all the other ways that the Fall Equinox is also known as, such as: Autumnal Equinox, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Mabon, and Witch’s Thanksgiving. In terms of autumn rituals, in ancient Greece, Oschophoriawas a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700’s, Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which still exists today. China’s Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity. So, of course, my mom had her own version.
There are some who believe that the Fall equinox is a time that by some mystical force one can balance eggs on their end, due to the facts that the equinox is a time of balance when “day and night are equal” Some believe that one can only balance an egg within a few hours before or after the exact time of the equinox. My mom’s Puerto Rican version of this was to place an egg in water overnight and the open the egg, letting the yolk slide into the water. At that point she would read the yolk to determine what type of Limpieza (cleaning-primarily psychical) we would need. Part of the “reading” was to see who may have giving us the evil eye and what we needed to do going forward to ensure protection and security. Afterwards part of the limpieza entailed using vinegar, salt and secret ingredients you get from the local Botanica.
Here is a particular recipe to conduct a house limpieza “cleansing”. The recipe is in Spanish, non-translated, because it is a bit more charming that way and you can always just take it to a botanica to be filled. Well, in New York, especially you have local botanicas.
Un vaso de agua natural (embotellada sin gas).
Un vaso de vinagre tinto.
Un puñado de romero.
Una cucharada de sal.
Medio metro de franela amarilla.
In my cleaning I did come across some of my old botanica candles. I do not even know what they are to do. But, just for good measure I do keep them around. So, back to the house selling issue at hand that got all this introspection going: As I gather numerous bags of garbage, I have come to realize that what I can’t fix or throw away- I can always put up a makeshift wall (as my realtor suggested) to cover it all up!