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Out with the old, in with the new – it’s spring! | Moment's Notice


Last updated 5/1/2019 at Noon

The weather has been so confusing this year that the first day of spring came and went without much notice. Suddenly, though, perhaps because of all of the bunnies hopping around the backyard, poking their ears up out of the ivy in our parks, and nuzzling in the planters … now it’s spring!

In addition to the wildlife cuteness, the gardens being prepped, the draw to go north to see tulips, spring means one, very wonderful thing – spring cleaning. It’s a favorite pastime of mine.

Just like all of our traditions, spring cleaning has wonderfully diverse origin stories from centuries past.

The Catholic Church cleans the altar on Maundy Thursday (the service with the ritual washing of the feet), the day before Good Friday, so the spring was the time to clean inside the church.

In Orthodox countries, people cleanse themselves figuratively and literally on “Clean Monday,” ridding themselves of sinful attitudes and cleaning the house right before Lent.

The Holi "festival of spring" in India signifies the arrival of spring, and is a joyous day to clean your heart, leaving bad memories of others behind, to forgive and forget.

In Iran, they have a charming 3,000-year-old phrase (“khaneh tekani”) that literally translates to “shaking the house.” Everything in a house is thoroughly cleaned on Persian New Year, or Nowruz (the first day of spring).

Before Passover, ancient Jewish practices encouraged cleansing of the home in anticipation of that springtime festival, as well as cleansing the person by not eating certain foods.

Every spring, Easter was a big part of my growing up, and I am grateful I was taught tradition and doctrine, as we observed the Catholic holiday appropriately (although when the nuns made me eat bitter greens in salt water, I was not happy).

Luckily, Easter brought the added bonuses of the chocolate bunnies and decorated eggs, both an art form and a timelessly fun and cherished family activity.

Growing up, I had (and have) several Jewish friends who also introduced me to the holiday of Passover and all that it represents.

Passover is a spring festival connected with the first grains to ripen, but rather, for Passover the intent was to contemplate freedom – freedom from slavery and from persecution – and to search for something that needs to be left behind in order to attain that freedom.

So every year, Passover was a reminder that spring is a time to hope for something more for those who are kept from pursuing their full potential.

Learning about Holi, I was taken by the thought that spring is a time to let bygones be bygones and to recognize that our conflicts with others can often start from within.

The festival encourages everyone to expel personal demons and cover each other in colored powders representing all that spring brings. With all of the division in our communities, it is definitely worthwhile to start every spring with resetting our relationships, ending conflict and letting go of anger, and generally realizing we need to rid ourselves of accumulated emotional baggage.

Spring is a time to start anew, to start something new, and shake off the past and look for a new challenge. Each of those historic and ancient approaches to spring cleaning are just as worthwhile today.

Finding a way to forgive and forget, cleansing ourselves of those thoughts we know are not good for us, and most importantly, looking for ways to bring new opportunity to those the world around us all sound like a good start to spring to me.


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