Why you shouldn’t do your laundry between the years

Why you shouldn’t do your laundry between the years
Why you shouldn’t do your laundry between the years
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Created: 12/28/2022 4:54 am

Of: Bona Hyun


Do not wash clothes between the years: This rule is followed in many households. Behind the custom is the myth of the dangerous rough nights.

Hamburg – Who doesn’t know the good old rule of not doing any laundry between Christmas and New Year’s Eve or even until January 6th? Although it is ancient, many people still adhere to it today. But why actually? We simply explain where the custom comes from, what superstition is behind it and how exactly the precise period of the laundry ban came about.

rough nights Origin: Pagan belief in spirits
December 20th and 21st Night on Thomas Day, the shortest day of the year
December 24th and 25th Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, Vigil of Christmas
December 31st and January 1st New Year’s Eve
January 5th and 6th Epiphany, Vigil of Epiphany

Doing laundry between the years is forbidden: behind this is a pagan belief in spirits

There are many myths associated with the Christmas and New Year period, including the “ban” on doing laundry. Behind this lies the myth surrounding the rough nights. This means the twelve days between December 25th and January 6th, i.e. six nights before the winter solstice and six nights after it. According to pagan belief, the night from January 20th to 21st is also included. For many families, this means: no washing between the years and certainly not hanging up. The background is an ancient, cross-generational belief in spirits that has also survived in the Christian tradition.

Doing laundry between the years is forbidden: behind this is a pagan belief in spirits. © IMAGO/Anastasiya Amraeva

Rough nights between December 24th and January 6th: their meaning

The rough nights are the twelve nights between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. According to an old pagan belief, during these nights the gate to the realm of spirits opens: If you don’t follow certain rules, you will bring an uninvited guest from the realm of the dead into your house or draw the wrath of evil spirits. The four most important rough nights are: Thomas Night from December 20th to 21st, Christmas Eve from December 24th to 25th, New Year’s Eve from December 31st to January 1st and Epiphany Night from December 5th to 6th ghost hunting is at its wildest.

No washing between years – myth says haunted by spirits

According to superstition, the door between this world and the afterlife opens during the rough nights – just like on Halloween, although other customs apply. During the “wild hunt” in the sky, the souls of the dead rush together with demons and spirits and run a spooky spectacle. Anyone who witnesses what is happening is carried away or threatened with disaster and death.

From Christmas to January 6th and especially on New Year’s Eve, according to popular belief, there is a strict commandment that many people still adhere to today: Do not wash laundry and hang it out to dry. This particularly refers to sheets – now simply called bedclothes, of course – as white linen sheets are said to be stolen by the spirits and used as a shroud for a member of the house. In other words, a member of the household will die. Another legend says that the spirits get caught in the laundry and feel provoked by it. Women are particularly at risk if they hang up white laundry shortly after Christmas: the ghosts are attracted to the white linen and attack the women.

Don’t do laundry on New Year’s Eve – drive away ghosts with noise instead

With the loud noise on New Year’s Eve, the hunters in the sky are supposed to be driven away. So behind the typical New Year’s Eve fireworks and the firecrackers is the superstition regarding the rough nights. At least this year you have to be very careful with the noise, there is a nationwide ban on firecrackers on New Year’s Eve. Strict rules also apply to New Year’s fireworks in Hamburg – there are high penalties for non-compliance.

There are many other customs between the years

If you want to keep the ghosts at bay between the years, you should attach great importance to order. In some regions, houses are kept clean and tidy. Incense is said to ward off evil spirits. According to superstition, it is not recommended to enter the streets after dark.

No laundry between the years – and little else allowed on New Year’s Eve 2021

In addition to the ghosts, the fourth Corona wave is unfortunately also raging in Hamburg and everywhere between the years. Instead of a party, this means lockdown light – with numerous restrictions: the Corona rules in Hamburg around and on New Year’s Eve include a ban on dancing. To make matters worse, we are spoiled for another cherished tradition, which makes staying at home a culinary highlight for many: The RKI warns against raclette and fondue. After all, less table linen with oil and cheese stains has to be washed.

The article is in German

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