Home Household chores 5 Typical Household Chores at the Time of the Virgin Mary

5 Typical Household Chores at the Time of the Virgin Mary


She probably made them full of grace!

When we look at images of the Blessed Mother, she is truly the embodiment of grace. In fact, it’s hard to imagine her living the life of a busy housewife taking care of daily chores while raising her young son.

It is obviously impossible to know exactly what Mary’s chores would have been, and how Jesus and Joseph helped her, but we can assume through the architecture and general practices of the time how the Virgin Mary took care of her family – and of all the guests who knocked at the door.


Now that we have so many possessions, Mary wouldn’t have had to spend a lot of time tidying up or doing big annual sorting. The few items people had would be kept in wooden chests – even cooking utensils – so if friends came over, it wouldn’t have taken long to put things away.

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Make the bed

No need to wash lots of throws and pillows; making the bed in Jesus’ time would have been a much simpler affair. Modest families rolled out a mat on the bare floor and used their own cloaks to keep warm at night. While it might not have been as comfortable as today’s beds, it sure would have been quick to shake out the rugs each morning, roll them up, and put them away.

One thing that might have made Mary’s chores a little unpleasant was that in poorer families, animals often slept in the house at night. This would have meant that the dirt floors would need thorough and regular sweeping.

Wash the dishes

While there were minimal dishes to clean, water was not plentiful. It was often drained from flat roofs so that families could store it, especially during the warmer months. So no doubt the Blessed Virgin should have contented herself with a wooden trough filled with a little water to do the housework. She would have used and stored the water with care.

wooden bin

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One of the biggest time savers in today’s household chores has to be the washing machine. However, in Jesus’ day, the cleaning of clothes required extensive scrubbing, especially to remove all dust, and this would have been done away from the family home so that water would not come back into the house.

To add more pressure to the cleansing process, there was a lot of importance in having clean clothes at this time, as can be seen in the Bible many times, such as in Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are those who wash their robes to be entitled to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.

bible dress

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According to The Times of Israel, network (a kind of sulphur) and borit (a herbal product) have been used to remove stubborn stainsalthough their exact composition is disputed.

What is likely is that Mary would have dried the family’s clothes on a flat roof, if they had one, or in the yard, where they would have dried quickly in the hot sun.


Without complicated appliances or kitchen gadgets, preparing meals for the family would have been a simple affair; probably made in a hearth outside the house. Only wealthier families would have had some type of oven inside the house.

That means Mary wouldn’t have had to scrub a greasy oven, but she probably had to clean the hearth regularly.