Cleaning Rituals from Around the World: Cultural Perspectives on Tidying Up

Cleaning Rituals from Around the World: Cultural Perspectives on Tidying Up

Cleaning is a universal practice, but the way it’s approached can vary greatly from culture to culture. These diverse cleaning rituals offer unique insights into the values, traditions and lifestyles of different societies. Here’s a look at some fascinating cleaning customs from around the world:

1. Japan – Oosouji: In Japan, the ritual of “Oosouji” takes place at the end of the year and involves a thorough cleaning of homes and workplaces. The practice symbolises leaving behind the impurities of the old year and starting afresh.

2. Sweden – Döstädning: The Swedish practice of “Döstädning”, or death cleaning, involves clearing out and organising possessions as people age. This ensures that loved ones aren’t burdened with excess belongings after one’s death.

3. India – Diwali cleaning: During Diwali, the festival of lights, homes in India are extensively cleaned to welcome the goddess Lakshmi and invite prosperity into the household.

4. Mexico – Dia de los Muertos: In Mexico, families clean and decorate altars to honour deceased loved ones during Dia de los Muertos. This cleaning ritual is a way of showing respect and creating a welcoming space for ancestral spirits.

5. Indonesia – Gotong Royong: The Indonesian concept of ‘gotong royong’ involves community members coming together for communal cleaning and maintenance. The practice promotes a sense of unity and cooperation.

6. Greece – Spring cleaning: In Greece, spring cleaning is a long-standing tradition linked to the celebration of Easter. Homes are thoroughly cleaned and often whitewashed to symbolise renewal and purity.

7. Iran – Khaneh-Tekani: Before the Persian New Year, Iranians practice “khaneh-tekani”, cleaning every nook and cranny of the house to welcome the New Year with a fresh start.

8. China – Chinese New Year: In the lead up to Chinese New Year, homes are cleaned to sweep away bad luck and make way for good fortune. The cleaning is often done before New Year’s Eve to avoid sweeping away the incoming good luck.

These cultural cleaning rituals demonstrate the deep connections between cleaning and cultural beliefs, traditions and moments of significance. Exploring these practices can inspire us to see cleaning not just as a chore, but as a meaningful way to connect with our heritage and values.

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