Spring Clean like a Pole

February 28, 2024 | Easter and Lent, Traditions

In Poland it’s difficult to consider Lent and preparations for Wielkanoc (Easter), without also thinking of the annual ‘spring clean’ at home. The aim of course, is for your house to gleam with cleanliness; also symbolic of disposing of winter evils, illness and unhappiness which may have gathered in our homes. It’s akin to the soul cleansing that is a key element of Lenten contemplation.

Our ancestors, particularly in villages would have put their hearts and souls into these preparations for the great festival of the Lord’s Resurrection. Cottages were whitewashed, gardens were tidied and paths filled with sand. Orchards were filled with displaced wardrobes and beds, as floors were scrubbed and walls repainted. Once clean, the walls were decorated with wycinanki (paper cut-outs) or straw pająki (chandeliers) made of coloured paper and straw from the fields , also known in the north east as a kierec.

So how can we set about doing a traditional Lenten clean to bring order into our lives and strengthen optimism?  It’s a pretty thorough task which over half of all Poles will be starting soon – in a survey (TNS survey 2015) 58% were going to clean windows, 52% scrub the floors, 50% wash the net curtains and others planned to beat the carpets, air the linen and tidy out wardrobes.  Here’s a plan I found for your Lenten ablutions (www.kasanaobcasach.pl).  It’s pretty hardcore but I suspect very satisfying. Suggestion: don’t do it on your own, include the whole family and include breaks for treats and snacks.

Three weeks to go

laundry spring clean

Polish windows seem to be the biggest sinners that need cleansing for Poles, so start from the living room, bedroom and children’s rooms. Clean the windows, change the curtains and wash any nets. Review contents of wardrobes. Give away unused clothes, pack away winter clothing in boxes and unpack spring and summer ones. Wash window and door frames, skirting boards, vacuum cabinets and shelves. Don’t forget the hard to reach places – under beds and sofas. Finish by thoroughly vacuuming the carpets and wash floors. Phew! – I think this is definitely more than a week’s work!

Two weeks to go

spring clean

Now take care of the kitchen and bathroom. Review makeup and bath products,  throwing away those out of date or unused for a long time. Thoroughly wash the shower tray, toilet bowl, washbasin and fittings. Clean out the cupboard under the sink. Don’t forget the mirror and behind the toilet. After having released all the dust, wash the floor and bathroom rugs. In the kitchen, wash the top cabinets and the insides. Review your tableware and storage products. Then clean the windows and kitchen equipment: oven, fridge, microwave, toaster and any other devices. Wipe the table tops, table and chairs. At the end, sweep and wash the floor. Clean the tiles here and in the bathroom with a window cleaner. Wow! At this point I think I’ll be feeling very pleased with myself.

One week to go

Finish in the hall. Clean the wardrobe if you have one, wipe the dust from shelves and clean hangers. Hide winter boots (we hope they won’t be needed) and bring out spring shoes in their place. Sweep the floor thoroughly and wash. Clean the hall mirror. Remember to wipe the entrance door and all internal doors with a wet cloth. Sweep the outside step and drive. Now there’s only (!) ordinary weekly cleaning left, dusting and vacuuming before the final celebration with the family.

Three P Principle

If you get the urge to tackle your possessions, use the Polish Three ‘P’ principle. It’s much simpler than the Marie Kondo approach which I reviewed here.  When considering what to keep, leave only those things that meet one of three conditions: piękne (beautiful), pamiątkowe (commemorative) and przydatne (useful) —as opposed to Marie’s joyful items – not so meaningful for Poles who like to keep memories. If you need to be less radical at first, have three boxes – throw, give away (your ugly might be someone else’s beautiful), decide later, then go back to that box a month or three later.

And when you can invite friends to your shiny dwelling, it’s time to decorate. Walk through from the front door and see where you can add the unique atmosphere of Easter. A few sprigs of blossom in the entrance, a vase with pussy willow, a linen tablecloth with easter eggs and tulips.  You’re done! Let me know how you get on!

If you liked this post you might like to read:

this post first appeared on this site in March 2019

Add a comment

Related Blogs

Posted by Anna Kucewicz | March 27, 2024
“The Sweet Polish Kitchen” and Ren’s Easter delights
Our heritage is often formed or rekindled in the kitchen. We find great pleasure in creating traditional Polish cakes, evoking memories of childhood when delicious scents emanated from the oven,...
Posted by Anna Kucewicz | October 27, 2023
Polish funerals – beliefs and traditions
As the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' progresses into winter and 'nothing gold does stay,' our thoughts turn to the upcoming days of remembrance. In honouring our dearest departed...
Posted by Anna Kucewicz | April 2, 2023
Easter the Polish Way
As we gear up for Easter week, I've put together a few articles you might enjoy about Polish traditions. Starting with this weekend, when for Palm Sunday we weave palms...