Spring renewal means that soon, in New England, we”ll start to see those young shoots of the first plants that make an appearance after winter and we”ll see buds on the early blooming trees and bushes. It also means spring cleaning; getting rid of the dirt and debris that always seems to hang on as winter leaves.
A quick look on the internet, under the topic of “Spring Cleaning” lists a number of influences, ranging from living in cold climates before the technology of the washer and dryer, thus needing to hang recently washed household furnishings outside, to the religious and cultural, including during the Jewish celebration of Passover, which falls in the spring in the Northern Hemisphere. (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-origins-of-spring-cleaning.htm)
My mother was in the secular camp when it came to spring cleaning; it was all about the time of year and the need to open the windows and literally wash away the winter grime on every surface, including windows and walls. Everyone in the family had to participate and every drape, bedspread and blanket was washed and hung out!
When I married into a Jewish family, and started celebrating Passover, I learned about the religious and cultural reasons in Judaism for spring cleaning.
Part of the observance of Passover requires a thorough cleaning of the home to be rid of all leavened grain products (chametz), and only consuming unleavened grains (mostly matzoh) for the 7 or 8-day period of Passover in part to remember the speed with which the Jews needed to leave Egypt (and their leavened bread and other foods) after many generations of being enslaved. http://www.jewfaq.org/holidays.htm
“Preparations for Passover begin typically a month before the holiday commences, with traditional Jews emptying their homes of the five Biblical grains (rye, oats, wheat, barley, and spelt), as well as any foods derived from those grains. Additionally, Ashkenazi Jews (of Eastern European origin) remove a separate additional class of foods called kitniyot, including corn, peas, beans, and rice. The idea is to remove anything that rises, recalling that the Jews left Egypt in haste and their bread did not rise, leaving them with flat (and very difficult to digest!) Matzoh. The grains used in Matzoh are monitored very closely so that they do not bake long enough to rise fully.”
My favorite comment from this blog post, as it continues:
“The spring cleaning preceding Passover involves not only cleaning your living spaces, but also your mind, as you examine what “enslaves” you in your daily dealings emotionally as well as what can get filled with hot air and puffs up in your pantry.”
What else is holding you back? I think spring is a great time to reassess your home”s interior, not just from a cleanliness perspective, but from an interior design perspective, too. Before making any changes in your interior environment, ask lots of questions! Collect images of rooms and furnishings that inspire you – you can do that on-line, using Pinterest Boards, for example, or do it the old fashioned way, and have a hard-copy file of images.
Sometimes, just asking questions will start you on the journey to a more authentic environment; here are some questions to begin…,and add questions of your own!
What are you holding onto, that you want to let go? What do you want to embrace?
Do you come home from a hard day at work, to sit in an uncomfortable chair? Can you relax in your home?
Do you have art work that you inherited that you just don”t like, but keep anyway? This is not about running out and just buying new things, it”s really about taking stock of what you really want to surround you in your life.
What do you really want to keep and what can you sell, give away or otherwise remove from your home that doesn”t speak to you about your life and who you are?
Can you showcase your favorite collection in a way that makes you smile every time you walk by it?
Does your space meet the needs of all your family members?
It”s about making choices and really examining how you want to feel in your own environment. Don”t hesitate to contact design professionals for help; often having professional help is more cost-effective and certainly less frustrating than repeatedly trying to address design problems that are not in your field of expertise.
Do you feel comfortable with many objects surrounding you?
Do you enjoy collecting and collections?
Do you prefer the minimalist approach?
Do you prefer more traditional furnishings styles?
Or something eclectic?
Do you like embellishment?
Do you like saturated colors? Is color important in how you express yourself?
Or something more subdued?
Do you like to bring the outside in?