Catholic Activity: Spring Cleaning
The first part of Holy Week is traditionally cleaning time. Father Weiser explains this tradition and why to have the family involved.
According to an ancient tradition the three days after Palm Sunday are devoted in many places to a thorough cleaning of the house, the most vigorous of the whole year. Carpets, couches, arm chairs, and mattresses are carried into the open and every speck of dust is beaten out of them. Mother and children scrub and wax floors and furniture, change curtains, wash windows, and dispose of all superfluous or unusable articles that have accumulated in the course of months. The home is buzzing with activity. No time is wasted on the usual kitchen work, the meals are very casual and light. On Wednesday night everything has to be back in place, glossy and shining.
This traditional spring cleaning, of course, is to make the home as neat as possible for the greatest feast of the year. It seems that the custom was taken over from the ancient Jewish practice, for the Jews in the Old Testament cleansed and swept and decorated the whole house in preparation for the feast of the Pasch (Passover).
It will be good for the children to cooperate in a part of this cleaning when they come home from school. It keeps them busy with a task that has a special meaning and significance not only for the external celebration of Easter but also, in a symbolic way, with their internal preparation for the great feast. Besides, it occupies them with an activity different from their usual interests after school time, and thus it reminds them that Holy Week is different from all other weeks. Finally, if it means a burden and sacrifice to them, so much the better. By giving up their plays and games and helping mother in the cleaning of the house, they do some very practical and wholesome penance in honor of the Lord's passion.
Activity Source: Year of the Lord in the Christian Home, The (reprinted as Religious Customs in the Family) by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., The Liturgical Press; reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, 1964