When I was a kid, I was told about an Italian custom for the New Year. Everyone in town would clean their houses, clearing out broken furniture and ruined clothes. They’d toss the rubbish out the window and onto the street below. The townspeople would burn it all in a bonfire. I don’t know if the custom still exists in Italy – the lady who told us was speaking of her grandmother’s hometown, so that was at least 100 years ago – but it sounded much more exciting than Boxing Day. (Especially since Boxing Day is now just another “sales event.”)
In my fourth or fifth apartment, I adapted the custom of cleaning house on New Year’s Day. Whenever I rolled out of bed (or returned from the party), I’d start in the kitchen and go round. Leftovers of unknown age, make-up, toothbrush – all these went to the dumpster. Clothes and household items went into boxes salvaged from work.* Cleaning and scrubbing also kept depression at bay, since New Year’s Day was the last vacation from work until the spring.
Nowadays, there’s a lot less to pack up and give away. But with company coming New Year’s Eve, deep-cleaning the house is still a sensible tradition. I’m just starting a little earlier.
*I was always assisted by Mike from the mailroom, who refused to retire because he enjoyed working and he liked everyone – and everyone liked him, too. Not only did he save me sturdy lidded boxes of a particular size, but he remembered every year.
- thinking out of the boxing day (itslucielastic.com)
- Gist: Boxing Day and its origination (asehot.wordpress.com)