Now that Purim is over, many individuals begin their Passover cleaning as early as today, one month before the holiday begins. It can be a meticulous period, especially if you have a large house with multiple rooms and floors. One of the most time consuming and important tasks to complete for many of the communities that I had interviewed was the process of sorting and cleaning large quantities of rice for the holiday, as it needed to last the entire week for the whole family. Some individuals even explained how it could take weeks to do, as only small portions would be sorted through each day, grain by grain, only to be sorted again two more times before being considered clean for Passover. While many may only do a good cleaning a week or just days before, I spoke to some individuals who went as far as the following in their homes:
Iran, Syria, India, Iraq: The purchasing and sorting of rice grains (this could take several weeks to do as each grain was individually checked, discarding any broken pieces or grains of wheat that might have gotten mixed in).
India: Purchasing, sorting, roasting, and grinding of fresh spices (this may have been done as early as 2 months ahead!)
Morocco: Removing the stuffing from all pillows and mattresses, washing the outside cases, then re-stuffing them with new, fresh cotton (that has been sorted for cotton seeds or bugs).
Ethiopia: Making all new ceramic dishes, bowls, cups, and even pots by hand in time for the holiday (the previous year’s dishes and pots would ALL be broken then discarded a few days before Seder).
Egypt, Morocco, Iran: Washing and painting of all the interior walls of the house.
Yemen, Egypt, Iran: Buying a young lamb and raising it on the terrace or in backyard before slaughtering it for the Passover Seder night (this might have started 2 months before).
How early did your family start preparing for the holiday, and what were the first things that you would do?