With the World Cup due to start in a matter of days, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the cleaning traditions from different countries and cultures around the world. While some of us avoid cleaning altogether and find it a lengthy chore, in some parts of the world, cleaning is valued as an important ritual and tradition.
In many cultures, households will have a thorough clear out and clean just before or at the beginning of the New Year, in order to start the year feeling cleansed and refreshed. In Iran, the New Year falls on March 21st, which on the solar-based calendar, is the day of the vernal equinox, when the sun is exactly above the equator and day and night are equal of length. This also marks the first day of Spring time. During the New Year’s celebrations, which in Iran, lasts for 2 weeks, the Iranian’s take part in a ritual called Knouneh Tekouni, a phrase which translates to “shaking the house”. The ritual involves families cleaning and scrubbing their homes until every inch of the house is clean and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. Only when they are completely satisfied that the house is spotless can they relax and enjoy the New Year.
Similarly, prior to the Chinese New Year, the Chinese celebrate the holiday of Ninyabaat. There is a very famous Cantonese saying, “wash away the dirt on Ninyabaat”, which refers to the annual tradition of cleaning any bad luck or misfortune out of your home. Ceilings, walls and floors are all thoroughly wiped down or mopped and but any sweeping is considered forbidden for at least the first few days of the Chinese New Year to ensure no good fortune gets “swept away”. When the cleaning is finished, the Chinese people hang paper couplets, which are red coloured strips usually with black or golden Chinese characters written on them. These are supposed to attract good luck and fortune.
In Jewish culture, before the spring festival of Passover, the Jewish people from around the world carry out a deep clean of their home to make sure that not even the smallest crumb of bread is left in the house. It is perceived as an insult to God if any bread with yeast is in the house, as that is what the slaves were given in Egypt during their captivity.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, occurs every Autumn and is celebrated by Hindu’s around the world. Before the celebrations commence, Hindu’s clean their homes thoroughly, removing any clutter or unwanted items and often donating them to charity. The cleaning process is done to prepare their homes for the arrival of the Goddess Lakshmi.
In Guatemala, house-holds on or around the 7th December sweep all of their rubbish onto the street and set fire to it, an act in attempt to remove the devil out of their homes. This is also known as ‘Quema del Diablo’, or ‘burning the devil’. Often families will place a figure or sculpture of the devil himself on top of the bonfire.
‘Songkran’ is the name for the Thai New Year, which usually falls on the 13th April. In preparation for Songkran, Thai people will clean their statues of Buddha and throw scented water and fragrant herbs on them to help bring them luck. When the water runs off the statues, it is collected and poured over elders to bring good fortune.
What are your cleaning traditions? Post them to us on social media, using the hashtag #MyCleaningTradition.