In many countries like Germany, Switzerland, Skandinavian countries etc. it is common use to take off the shoes when entering someone’s home (*). The custom of removing shoes is widespread also in Eastern countries like Japan, Korea and Turkey.
In these countries it is considered a major faux pas to walk through a house with shoes on. In some schools in Sweden, children are even required to remove their shoes.
In Japan, removing shoes has also a very practical matter. Traditionally, the floors in Japanese dwellings were covered with tatami mats which are used to sit on and to sleep on instead of chairs and beds. Wearing shoes into the house would bring the mud, dirt, dust and bacteria into the house and you would sit and sleep in all that. Even if the pavement technology has pretty much improved and hard flooring is quite common in Japanese houses nowadays, the tradition of taking off shoes remains.
Removing shoes before entering a home is more a cultural rather than a religious tradition, it is important to know that some religions require removing shoes before entering a house of worship or a temple: muslims remove their shoes before entering a mosque, Hindus remove their shoes before entering a temple and Sikhs do the same before entering a gurdwara. People used to do so for religious reasons will also be more sensible about it in their own house.
Generally, we could say that from a cultural point of view, it is considered a mark of respect if guests remove their shoes while entering someone’s home.
Many people feel uncomfortable when asked to remove their shoes when entering someone’s home. They feel as if it is an imposition, a demand for a level of intimacy that they may not be willing to have with the person they’re visiting. Some also don’t want to show their feet or their socks or stockings, or would even feel mortified to be asked to take off their shoes in public, simply because in their culture it is not common.
The main reason for removing shoes is health
“In the 15th century one was not allowed to enter a room without taking off shoes in Holland. One can only imagine the human and animal sewage that one would walk through out in the world at that time, so removing shoes would be a precaution against illness-causing bacteria”. (Annie B. Bond)
Since municipal sewage systems took hold and cars and trains did supersede animal transportation, we could say that the original health reasons behind removing shoes fell away.
But new studies show that while we may no longer be tracking in as much bacteria on our shoes, we are tracking in dangerous pollutants. Therefore it may be time to return to the practices of the 15th century to protect the health of our homes. In her article about this topic, the Health Home Expert Annie B. Bond, lists up many examples that should convince people to take off their shoes at home.
Pesticides, toxic coal tar, lead etc. are tracked into homes on shoes. Taking off shoes at the door is even more important if you have carpets, which are “sink hole(s) for toxins of all kinds” that are brought into the home on shoes and boots “including pollens, lead, pesticides and more”. Furthermore, infants and young children spend most of the time on the floor (not in all cultures!) and are much closer to the floor, put toys that have been on the floor into their mouth etc. “With their growing central nervous systems and developing immune systems, toxic chemicals can be especially damaging”. The same applies to pets who are also vulnerable to exposure because commonly lying on the floor or carpet.
(*) I would like to point out that, contrary to what I said in the first version of this post (published on Sunday the 24th November), it is not common anymore to take off the shoes in every home in the Netherlands. I quickly asked my Dutch friends who confirmed that they did not always do it and, what I found particularly interesting: they do it when they have small children (babies or toddlers) who play on the floor. – I would like to thank Rakael, who pointed this out in the reply section and made me realize that my data was not accurate enough and partly based on obsolete observations made by others.
When to ask and when not to ask to take off the shoes…
I grew up with the habit to take off my shoes every time I came home but I lived in a country where people didn’t have this habit and was used not to do so when entering their home. I ended up combining both habits for my own family. I do expect my family and close friends to take off their shoes as a sign of respect and intimacy. I also ask children to take off their shoes when they come in for obvious health reasons, especially when I know that they will play on the floor and go up and down the stairs (one of our house-rules is: no shoes upstairs or on the stairs).
Considering all the general factors mentioned above – religion, culture, health – one thing has to be pointed out. Taking off the shoes is a sign of intimacy with the guests and we have to be flexible enough to make exceptions.
I would not ask a superior to take off his or her shoes when visiting, or if I have an official gathering at my house. Personally, I would also feel very uncomfortable to ask someone I don’t really know to remove his or her shoes at the doorstep. Also, I usually don’t ask friends to take off their shoes if they’ll only stay downstairs and probably go in our garden or if I know that there will be other guests who feel less comfortable with taking off their shoes.
In general, in our house shoes are allowed downstairs when we have guests who don’t have to (for reasons mentioned above) or can’t take off their shoes. Some of our friends have diabetes or other medical conditions which require that they keep their shoes on.
It helps that we don’t have carpets downstairs and I usually clean the floors after people walked in with shoes; especially when workers came into the house.
If it is considered a faux pas to not take off the shoes in some cultures, it is also considered a faux pas to take them off in cultures where people is not used to this habit. It can be very embarassing entering a room in socks where everyone else wears shoes…
In my opinion it is a matter of cultural intelligence to ponder if it’s better to wear shoes or take them off when visiting.
Some tips for the guest and the host
If you visit someone’s home and are not sure if you’ll be asked to take off your shoes, you can ask your host right after the welcome or look what other guests did while entering the home (usually hosts would direct you to the place where to take off your shoes if this is desired).
If you know that you will visit someone from a culture where you will probably be asked to leave your shoes at the doorstep and don’t want to be offered slippers by your host, I have a small advice: bring a pair of socks with you or house shoes. I usually have some socks in my handbag just in case.
If you are the host there are some ways to make your guests feel more comfortable and relaxed if you want them to take off their shoes. If you know that your guests don’t have the same habit, you can advise them beforehand and ask them to bring some slippers or socks – of course, if you are close enough friends! You can also offer clean (!) house slippers in various sizes available for your guests, but don’t be surprised if the guest does not accept; many people don’t like to take on “used” shoes. It’s a matter of hygiene and putting on someone elses’ shoes can feel gross to some people.
In order to respect the privacy of your guest, foresee a place in the entrance where people can sit and comfortably take off their shoes and place them without being eyed by other guests.
As host you should also always consider the option to not ask your guests to take off their shoes. Simply as a sign of respect for their privacy and personal boundaries, especially if they are not close friends or you know that some of them would not be comfortable with this habit.
Do you have the habit to remove your shoes when entering a home? How do you react when asked to remove your shoes? Do you ask people to do so when entering your home?
- Should Shoes be Worn in the House? (neatorama.com)
- No-shoes rule pleases some, irks others (staradvertiser.com)
- Is it rude to ask guests to take their shoes off? (sacbee.com)
- Wearing Shoes in the House (cbshoes.wordpress.com)
Categories: Culture/Traditions, Expat Life, Family, Netherlands, Switzerland
In Hungary they do that too. It was pretty strange at first but now I don’t feel good when I go back to Portugal and go inside my parent’s with shoes hehe
Oh yes, that’s pretty interesting. Once you get used to do it, you end up appreciating it. In Italy, where I grew up, people were not used to take off their shoes at the doorstep, but I remember our neighbour’s mum (“la nonna”: the grandma) reminding everyone to step on the “pattine”, two pieces of fabric you would use to slip through the house (especially on marble floor), when coming home.
A great article, Ute.
In fact I share the same experience as you! I grew up with the habit of taking my shoes off at the doorstep but then I lived in many other places that don’t apply this habit.
I have taught my children to stick to this habit while at home, but they have also practised using common sense when at others’ houses. So if they are close friends & we know they do that, we simply take our shoes off. But if at others where guests are expected to go into the house with their outer footwear, then we just keep ours.
In some religions like Islam, it’s highly preferred to take off your shoes when entering the house, because it’s expected that one can perform prayers in any spot of the house (except bathroom, kitchen & utility room). And the prayers usually involve some kneeling & bringing the forehead into direct contact with the floor. A prayers mat is usually used for Muslim prayers but still one should expect to pray directly on floor if the mat is unavailable.
As for the host offering home shoes for guests, I have seen in some countries such as Turkey, hosts offering disposable standard plastic/fibre made footwear that also has a simple but chic style!
Finally, I would personally prefer & encourage sticking to this habit mainly for hygiene purposes. But of course I would still moderate this to fit only with people expecting it, while I would respect not to apply it when in opposing cultures!
I’m glad you liked, Nehad! I teach my kids the same. I think it’s quite interesting for them too to see the differences in these kinds of habits. I also prefer taking off my shoes but experienced people who usually do put them off, asking me to keep them on. It was unusual for me, especially because one of those friends is a muslim.
I like the idea of offering disposable shoes – but would prefer fibre made footwear for ecological reasons. I’m really glad that you pointed out this very important aspect of Muslim houses! Thanks for stopping by! Greetings from NL to your wonderful family! 😉
Stockings?!? That’s very racy 😉
I do take off my shoes at home. When visiting others, I tend to observe what they do, e.g. if we’re both entering their house at the same time, and they don’t, then I won’t either. I usually ask, though, before they even have a chance to put the question to me.
I don’t ask people to take them off when they come to my house. However, if I had small children, I’d be a total Nazi about it!
Ha, yes, I understand. I guess that when we have children we become more sensible about this. Especially when we let them play on the floor. Thanks for your comment ladyofthecakes! 😉
When visiting friends who are Moslem or my yoga instructor, I take off my shoes at the door as a sign of respect for their norms. Usually slippers are provided. If I know the people well enough to visit them in their home, I’m not uncomfortable using a pair of guest slippers– usually they’re rubber shower shoes.
Anywhere else though, no, I wouldn’t remove my shoes at the door unless I’ve been mucking around in their garden, walking through the countryside in wellies, or if I know (and the chances of this happening in the NL are great) that I’ve stepped into some dog poo on the way over.
I’d never require a guest to take off his or her shoes in my home. The larger part of good manners is making others feel comfortable. On the other side of the coin, If someone comes in the door and shucks their shoes and their feet don’t smell, who am I to tell them to put their shoes on?
I agree, Misirlou. Feeling comfortable – as guest or host – is very important in this context. Personally, I once felt very uncomfortable when someone did take off his shoes (sandals) and walked barefoot through my house with very dirty feet. I would have preferred if he would have kept his sandals on…
About removing shoes when we know that we stepped into dirt, mud etc., I think this should be common sense also among people who are not used to take off their shoes. They wouldn’t wear them in their home either, right?
Interesting post. One small thong, though: it is certainly not usual to take off your shoes in the Netherlands. People often wear socks or houseshoes at home, but taking your shoes off when visiting someone else’s house is frowned upon.
This is an interesting point, Rakael. When I go and visit my Dutch friends here in NL, I do always take off my shoes, and they do the same when they come to visit. And it’s not because they know I’m from Germany because when I sometimes tell them to keep them on, they are surprised. And I know that I’m not the only one who takes off the shoes when coming for a visit, because their other friends do the same (unless we go into the garden).
It would be great to find out what makes the difference, as you didn’t make this experience in NL.
Dear Rakael, I did correct the part about the Netherlands. I realized that the Dutch friends I did visit all had small children or worked in the medical sector and were apparently more inclined to this habit because of their profession and familiar situation. Some of them had also spent time abroad in countries where taking off the shoes is common (Germany, Danmark, Sweden) which did probably make them adopt it here in the Netherlands as well. – Thank you very much for pointing this out!
the first time I experienced this was in the UK, visiting some friends. It’s not a habit in Italy, although people do take their own shoes on at home, and put on slippers (most but not all). In Italy it would be a faux pas asking visitors to take shoes off at the door. I don’t ask anybody to take their shoes off in my home (UK and Croatia), we have hard-flooring and no carpets nor kids, so we can clean the floor after a dinner party or other gathering. Sometime when visiting new friends or acquaintances and if I see shoes in the entrance hall, I understand that it is a “no-shoes home” so I take mine off. I don’t feel comfortable without shoes in someone’s home, unless I am quite close/friendly with them.
May I ask if your friends in UK were British (where you experienced this the first time)? Yes, in Italy it would be a big faux pas if you would ask your visitors to take shoes off at the door! It’s a no go. Unless your shoes are muddy. But you can’t expect to be offered slippers, so, I guess you should try to clean your shoes as good as you can or find a way to have some spare shoes with you. – I do the same with new acquaintances: I observe the entrance hall. And I also agree on what you say at the end: I don’t feel comfortable without shoes in every home. This is why I always have some socks or slippers with me when visiting (at least in the car ;-)).
no, never in British homes, either oriental or indians.
We live in England,my wife is Hungarian, and we are pretty strict about shoes not being worn in the house.We wear slippers and when we visit, we take our slippers to change into when we arrive. Just about everyone we know takes off their shoes and wears slippers. I grew up in a no-shoes house and when we go to Hungary it is always shoes off in every home we visit. I actually would never dream of just walking into someones house in my shoes. I am a healthcare professional and when I do home visits I take my shoes off. It seems really strange for anyone to actually choose to wear shoes in the house.
Thank you very much for your comment, Mark! May I ask you if you were used to take off your shoes also before meeting your wife? I have several British friends who don’t do it and am wondering now what is the decisive factor for someone adopting this habit. I don’t want to generalise, but as far as I know, in the UK people don’t take off their shoes at the doorstep, but please correct me if I’m wrong! I usually try to not “think in boxes”.
I guess that in general, families who allow their babies and toddlers to play on the floor, are more sensible about this and more likely to ask people to take off their shoes. And the awareness of the healthy aspect is surely crucial!
May I ask you if you know if your collegues in other countries do the same when doing home visits? I don’t know if here in the Netherlands they do – I hope someone can answer this. I only observed that my maternity nurse did so when she helped me during the first week with my twins, but the one I had in Italy didn’t…
Yes I was brought up in a shoes off house, so it is something I have always done. In my experience, most people here seem to take off their shoes.
Ok, due to the very different answers about the habits in British homes, what can make the difference? “Our Adventures in Croatia” and Mark made very different experiences about this.
I know that it is a very general question and it may vary from family to family (?) or it depends on the region etc. you’re living, but I would really love to know more about it. – Any hints?
Very interesting article, Ute! Thank you! Jenny
The UK is a very wet place to live. In fact it has rained almost non stop here since 2006. We finally had a good summer this year, our first since 2006!! Our climate means that it many of us need to take off our shoes. We are also a polite nation(more or less) and well brought up people know to take their shoes off at home and when visiting. We also do it for comfort as many of us have long working hours and the first thing we do is take our shoes off after a long day(most of us then reach for the comfy slippers)
The majority of homes here still have carpet due to the cold. So carpets=no shoes. We are a houseproud nation which also means only one thing. No shoes in the house.
This is nothing new. In the 60s and 70s many homes were no shoes zones. I was brought up in such a house and all of my friends and families home were the same. So it has been happening here for a long time. But for some reason it has suddenly become a big deal. Back then nobody made a fuss. You went to a house and you took off your shoes. That simple. That comfy!
Mark, I do agree with you that in a country like the UK, where it rains a lot, it’s more convenient to take off the shoes. And as you use to have carpets in your house it’s even more indicated to reach for house shoes. I know that it is nothing new for most of the northern countries since more or less 50/60 years (or even longer?) for the reasons you mention.
I don’t think that it has become a big deal. It’s just something that people coming from a country where it is not a habit, notice when moving to a country where this is common. And I think that instead of judging them and their different customs about this, one should try to tactfully introduce them to the habit and understand that they can feel uncomfortable and embarassed when asked to take off their shoes.
The health reasons for doing so are very clear and undisputable. Not for nothing many of them adapt this habit once they’re back home again. But fact is, that it is something very unusual in some cultures.
There is the other aspect you mention: You say that those who are “well brought up” or are “houseproud” do take off their shoes. I think in every country where people use to have this habit, there are some who don’t for whatever reason.
However I wouldn’t consider someone from another culture not houseproud or not well brought up because he doesn’t have this habit. His house probably has a stone floor and is wiped (almost) every day. His children probably never sit on the floor.
And may it be that “nobody made a fuss” back then (in the 60/70) because they weren’t aware that other people have other habits or could find this habit strange? The more people travel and get to know other cultures, and especially live in other cultures, adapt and try to understand their rules etc., the more these things are noticed and, yes, described and discussed.
In order to understand the customs, habits, traditions of a country, it’s helpful to have them explained.
I really enjoyed this post (like all your posts). Hungarians always take their shoes off when visiting someone. At the begining it was hard for me to get used to it but now that we have a crawling and pre-walking baby I see a lot of advantage in this habit. I think it is very clean, consider and healthy.
A big hug from Budapest 🙂
Thanks, madrexilio, I’m really glad you liked it. Yes, I know that in Hungary they take off their shoes (I have several Hungarian friends) and was wondering how you feel about it. I think that especially those who have small children are generally glad if guests don’t walk into their house with outdoor shoes. What was the hardest part for you to get used to it? Was it the embarassement to take off your shoes or the way you were asked, the situation itself? Maybe all together ;-)?
A big hug from The Hague 🙂
When we got to Hungary we always take our slippers to wear. We do this here in England as do most of our friends.
I grew up in Canada and we always took our shoes off at the door at home or when visiting. While living in Japan it was interesting to see a step inside the font door of even modern apartments to designate that shoes are not worn beyond this point. At work there I’d take off my shoes and put on the slippers provided (and there is also a separate pair of special slippers to wear when using the toilet).
Now I live in Northern Ireland and people think I’m strange when I take my shoes off so I usually do as they do when visiting others. In our home we take our shoes off as soon as we enter our home. It really gets to me when others don’t, though I don’t say anything. The kids I babysat would take their shoes off and I’m not sure the mothers ever understood why. There is a big problem here with dog owners not being responsible and picking up after their dogs ‘do their business’ and I hat to think what gets tracked into homes with and without carpets and then the children lying and playing on the same carpets. If I know someone is going to visit I’ve been known to roll up and put away our area rugs so they won’t be walked across with dirty shoes or boots and after they leave I’ll wipe up the mud left behind on the floors.
I also think it’s better for children to run about in bare (or socked in winter) feet instead of being squeezed into shoes 14 hours a day, not giving their feet muscles a chance to stretch and build.
But that’s just my opinion,
Thank you so much for your comment, Crystal. I like this step you describe in Japan, for the shoes and the habit to take off your shoes at work: I would like that. But I also know that in some European countries, this would not be possible.
It’s interesting what you say about Northern Ireland: do others take off their shoes while visiting others there? Or not at all? When you say that you take off your shoes when you enter your home but don’t say anything when others don’t: is this because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, because you think they might have a problem with it? I must say: we have a dog since a few months, and I’m struggling with hygiene because of the reasons you mention. Our children are big enough now and don’t play on the floor anymore, but when we have babies or toddlers coming for a visit, I do the same you do: I roll up the rug and clean before they come to visit. (And the dog stays in his bench or in the garden ;-)).
I also completely agree with you about running around in bare or socked feet: it’s much healthier than wearing shoes the whole day!
Thank you very much for sharing your opinion and knowledge about this topic!
This is so true. My first wife was Canadian and it was always shoes off and slippers straight on for all her family. This didn’t bother me as I was already accustomed to this habit.
I would say that generally no one takes their shoes off in Northern Ireland. I still remember the odd look and comment I got when I was looking for shared accommodations when I moved here 10 years ago when I politely took off my shoes to look around. I feel strange about it, but now I generally leave my shoes on when visiting. If I’m going to be a while at my MIL, then I may take my shoes off it it’s a dry day (I don’t want to get wet socks on a rainy day by stepping in shoe puddles). I tend not to say anything to visitors (mostly in-laws) as they would think me even more strange and roll their eyes and say ‘ack, I’m not going to go to the bother of taking off my shoes indoors, no one does that’. I know my MIL would not take it well and be offended, so I try to grin and bear it. We more often go out to visit than have others in as we’re outside of the main town.
You know, I’ve just realised that the location where we have the Japanese Society parties, in a modern Japanese-style place, it’s odd that we don’t have to take off our shoes. My Japanese friend nearby has had an entranceway made in her home and does insist on taking your shoes off to visit, but she also provides nice Japanese-style slippers to wear if you’d like to.
Honestly, my main peeve the last year is that I am flat-footed and it has come to the point that I now need to wear insoles. This requires me to wear lace up shoes all the time-even indoors. If I digress and wear my moccasins for even a day, my feet and back let me know about it! My sister gave me a pair of nice, worn-in shoes 18 months ago, but they are lucky to still have the thread left and I don’t want to have to wear uncomfortable shoes when I’m trying to be relaxed in my own home. It’s driving me crazy to no end, I feel ‘rude’ in my own home wearing shoes, it’s been so ingrained into me!
Mark, it took my hubby a little while to get used to it, but he’s now firmly in the habit in our home 🙂
Crystal, I completely understand your conflict, I felt the same way when I lived in Italy and had collegues or friends coming for a visit. They wouldn’t take off their shoes, even with my son crowling on the carpet. Or at my Italian friends over there: they also had children but they would all (!) wear shoes indoors (even babies). It’s just another mentality. And what you say about getting wet socks: I completely agree. When others don’t take off their shoes and I have to walk in socks in the same room, I feel even more uncomfortable. Or at parties, where people spill driks, drop crumbs etc.? There too I feel uncomfortable wearing only socks.
I decided not to bother when at someone elses’ house, but didn’t dare to always ask my friends to take off their shoes when coming to my house.
Like you, I also feel rude in my own home wearing shoes. I think we just need to be flexible about this kind of things.
Good point about foot heath, Crystal!
I’m also Canadian, and my shoe-removing reflex has gotten me funny looks in a few countries, but appreciative ones in far more. 🙂
Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. We’ll just ignore the funny looks right?
Love this post. After seven years in China my family has now returned to America and we’re consistently finding ourselves as the only shoeless people in a crowded room. We would be embarrassed if we weren’t so sure we were the only right ones. Great post.
Thanks Jerry, for sharing your experience with this. It can be quite embarassing when you’re the only one in the room without shoes on and the others stare at your feet… I made this experience too. But I didn’t feel like doing the right thing, because it was really a no-go. But it was at a friends house we usually did take off our shoes, but that evening it was different, more formal. I learned my lesson.
Interesting article. We have been met with the, “Please take your shoes off” request here in France by our French friends (especially those with children). They usually explain it is for cleanliness reasons. Exceptions are usually made for more formal evening dinners.
Thank you, Bellanda, for your comment. I think that more and more people get used to take off their shoes if children are around – especially if they are still babies or toddlers or simply playing on the floor – also in societies where taking off the shoes is not that common. I like that people adopt this “rule” as a sign of respect for the children. When I was a child, we were told that it was for respect of the host. – I totally agree with you, at formal dinners or parties taking off the shoes is a “no go”. – Merci et à la prochaine 😉
Loved reading this post, it really got me thinking about what we do here in the UK and why. I generally take my shoes off when I come home because I find it more comfortably wandering around in my socks. I even bought myself a pair of crocks a year or two ago so as I didn’t have to waste time putting my shoes on again and off again when I needed to go up to the top of the garden to make sure that our chicken was back in its chicken house,
I don’t think that there’s really a general practice or rule here in the UK but get the impression that people are more likely to take their shoes off when they arrive somewhere in rural areas. I’m not totally sure why this is but perhaps it is to do with being more likely to have to work on paths or across grass than on pavements.
I’m actually a convert to the shoes-off rule. I used to always wear shoes in the house growing up. Eventually, I got my own apartment — an upstairs unit — and it wasn’t long before I got a complaint from my downstairs neighbors about noise. They could hear me when I was walking around. I stopped wearing shoes in the apartment, and the complaints stopped.
Eventually, I moved. I got a first-floor apartment, but it had brand-new beige carpet. Even though noise was no longer an issue, I decided to continue removing my shoes. It was partly for cleanliness, but partly because I discovered it’s just more comfortable to be in sock feet all the time with no shoes or slippers.
The apartment manager told me she usually replaces people’s carpet after seven years. Mine lasted 10 years, and I think it was because I never wore shoes.
I never have a problem with people who ask me to take off my shoes in their house. I admit it: I like to run around in socks indoors.
I work in a pretty relaxed (for Italy) ans young environment. So if we have an informal internal meeting, it has happened that I, or my Dutch colleague, would take off our shoes to be more comfy. Also, if I have to wear “nice shoes”, I do take breaks by taking them off under my desk.
It obviously shocked them a lot. Now, if she or I take off our shoes, they just comment that we are “so foreigners” and try no too focus too much on it 😉
Oh yes, this is an important aspect of this topic, M’dame Jo! I did the same when for several years: I had “nice shoes” in my office to wear if needed and yes, I also took off my normal shoes under my desk. I didn’t do so though when my Italian collegues were in the office. It would have been weird for them. A Swiss collegue of mine did the same. And my husband had “office shoes” too: he did only put them on in the building where he worked. I must specify that we did this especially in the winter, when we would wear heavy boots due to the snow etc. and it wouldn’t be healthy to wear them the whole day. Thanks a lot for stopping by!
I am from Italy…no way people take off their shoes. I would not be nice to ask and to do it.
Before entering you clean your shoes in the mat. I live in London now and some people do, some don’t. I always take disposable plastic covers but I found them stupid when I am the only one wearing them (So I used them if I is a quick visit). I was looking some kind of cotton cover black shoes, but I think I will make.
Yes, Ena, I know. I never did in Italy and I don’t ask my Italian friends who come over for a visit. It would be a no-go. But I have some Italian friends who did take this habit: they lived in countries where it was common to take off the shoes and just do the same now in their house. I think it pretty much depends on what you’ve experienced. Plastic covers is a bit hilarious, right? If you feel uncomfortable wearing socks, slippers etc. while visiting, why don’t you just take some spare indoor-shoes with you? I have a pair of ballerina I use for this purpose. They are “outdoor” shoes but were never worn outside and look pretty enough not to feel “comfy” in a place that’s not your home (or with people you’re not so familiar with). Thank you very much for your comment! E, dato che oggi è il primo dell’anno: buon anno! 😉
I grew up in a small ranching and farming community in South Texas, so it was natural to take off one’s boots when coming in from the fields.
Thank you, Russel, for your comment! Yes, on the countryside people take off their boots (or shoes) for very obvious reasons. I guess you do so even when you live in the city? I guess, if someone grows up with this habit, he’ll never stop doing it?
I stopped doing it only because I don’t like to wear shoes or boots. So as soon as I get home, I simply take my shoes off and put them in the closet. Then I’m barefoot for the rest of the time I’m inside.
I don’t think the practice is pretty common in Australia, unless you’re visiting an Asian household. (Although there is one holiday camp I frequent where you’re asked to take shoes off at the door of most of the offices and bunkhouses – when you’re wandering around all day in heavy boots in summer dust or winter mud, it gets important). After spending time in Korea and also in a church made up almost entirely of Asian students/families, it seems natural to me to take my shoes off at the door when visiting someone else’s home, although I don’t in my own home. However, I got in trouble in Spain because, particularly because of the heat, I automatically went around my host house without shoes on (didn’t usually take them off at the door, though) and it didn’t even occur to me that that mightn’t be all right, particularly as my host-brothers were Korean and doing it, too. My host-mother got so mad at me! Oops!
Here in Sweden it’s impossible for at least the december-april to leave the shoes on when entering a home, because of the snow or the wet weather. Even though you have a door carpet your home would be filled with melting snow and sand and pebbles (the sand is used for all the icy streets).
Thanks, Niklas, for your comment. I can imagine that not taking off shoes in similar situations or conditions would be really weird. I guess this does apply to every country with similar weather conditions? May I ask you what people do when they visit? Do they bring their own shoes? And what if they visit for a formal gathering? I experienced that people would bring their own “nice” shoes to wear then.
You can use galoshes to keep your shoes clean or bring clean shoes that you put on when entering the home.
I grew up in the US and so did both of my parents- though to be fair, some extended family on both sides lives in other countries.
It was customary in our house to remove shoes upon entering. In fact in my opinion it is disrespectful not to.
Most of our friends growing up shared this norm or did not mind that we removed our shoes in their homes.
It wasn’t until I was 16 or 17 that someone was uncomfortable with it and said so- and also this person did not remove their shoes in our house- I felt that was rather one sided to expect me to follow their cultural norms both in their home and in mine.
Now, several of my childhood friends I haven’t seen in a while “remind” me to take off my shoes and it is a little offensive. They may just be used to saying that to everyone, but I would think they would know and expect it from me.
So that’s my two cents. It is my norm, even though I’m American. I wish it were more common!
I was born and raised in Romania and we take off our shoes when visiting someone. People tend to tell you what to do, if you are allowed to have your shoes on they’ll just tell you ‘But please, you don’t have to take off your shoes!’. But as a rule, we do take off our shoes inside.
When I grew up I moved to Sweden. People do take off their shoes in Sweden also, but at a different level. I was almost shocked to see kids in schools leaving their shoes at the entrance door, or sick people (I work as a doctor) leaving their shoes in the waiting room or reception at the clinic. When I do home visits, I take plastic slippers with me and put them on over my shoes. Generally it’s a very big no-no to keep your shoes on inside someone’s house, even bigger than in Romania.
Thank you very much for this insight! I didn’t know that also in Romania people would have this habit. Very interesting that there are also situations where people would even be asked to keep their shoes on. I guess this would happen in more formal situations?
About Sweden: it might be at one end of the continuum? I like the idea of a doctor on home visits taking plastic slippers with him. I never experienced this so far.
After all these replies and comments, I think it’s a very important cultural aspect that people should be aware of.
Just came across your post and found it quite interesting. My wife and I currently live in NC but are originally from the northeast. I had a no shoe policy prior to meeting my wife due to a very picky housekeeper I had.! My wife quickly adapted to the no shoe policy the first time she tried to enter the apartment with shoes on and the housekeeper was there!. We have always maintained a shoe free home. My wife plays in a bridge group and it rotates from home to home . There are generally between 4 to 12 and sometimes 16 players in attendance. As a courtesy to the hostess everyone removes their shoes upon entering. Some bring slippers but for the most part everyone goes in stocking feet. Guests who visit us are not offered slippers but two of her friends usually bring their own. When we visit we take off our shoes and go in stocking feet unless we are specifically told that it is not necessary,
What about all the pathogens on people’s feet and socks?
Bacteria: Staphylococcus, Micrococcus and Corynebacteria;
DNA virus: HPV (human papillomavirus);
Fungi: Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton rubrum and T. mentagrophytes.
Surely asking guests to keep their shoes on is more hygienic!
Oh yes, Kris, this is quite an important point to mention! This is in fact also one of the reasons why people doesn’t want their guests to take off their shoes… I still don’t like everyone walking barefoot in my house… for exactly these reasons.
In Canada, regardless of ethnicity or religion, EVERYONE takes off their shoes before going into anyone’s home. Which is why whenever I’m abroad in places where you’re expected to keep your shoes on, I have culture shock. I think it’s so interesting that Canada is such a multicultural country and everyone still sticks to this norm.
I heard that before and I guess that this applies to many northern countries? I completely understand that you have culture shock when someone doesn’t do it when you’re abroad. I observed that I can be more flexible – like I described in the post and in some comments – but I still don’t like to keep on my shoes when I enter a home with carpets…
I am Japanese and I actually do not appreciate the guest who bring their own house shoes. I provide washed clean guest slippers. The slipper if the guests want to bring their own should not be worn on the same floor where the outside shoes are worn. That is the whole point of separating inside and outside.
That is a very important information for all those who don’t know. Thank you, Jenny! It totally makes sense to me. May I ask: do you have different shoes for different rooms in the house too? For example, another pair of shoes for the restroom? I would really be glad if you could tell me/us more about this.
We usually have slippers in the bathroom ( meaning toilet room, not shower room) particularly Japanese style toilet (squat style). Now many houses have western style toilet, some people use rug instead of slippers. Some people think it is not sanitary to share the bathroom slippers and just do intensive floor cleaning instead of using slippers.
Japanese shoes rules are so complicated and it is hard to understand for people from abroad. For example, we supposed not to walk on Tatami mat with slippers and slippers are expected to be left outside of the room. In my house (not every house), we had rule not to walk on the carpet with slippers. But all the Japanese houses have same absolute rule. No outside shoes come inside of the house, period.
My family is originally from eastern Europe (living in Australia) and we grew up taking our shoes off. The idea of all that stuff being tracked through the house is yuck.
But then I find it quite disgusting when people walk inside with their shoes to just take them off and tuck them under the coffee table and plonk their sweaty feet on top. Or leave their bag on the floor in public and then leave it on the kitchen bench. But then we were taught shoes, feet or bottoms should never be placed on tables – for hygiene reasons.
WRT hospitality, you need to make your guests feel welcome and part of being a gracious host would be a routine I would see my dad undertake when someone visited our house. After greeting the guests he would insist they leave their shoes on and they would insist on removing them. This routine would play out a number of times before the expected outcome of shoe removal. I found that it was considered a sign of respect that the host insist shoes remain. Equally it was considered a sign of respect by the guest to actually remove the shoes.
Occasionally some family friends would be shoes-inside people. Often it was their way of feeling ‘civilised, modern and ‘urbane’; a way to distance themselves from their ‘rural, poor, uneducated’ ancestry.
Dear Vesna, thank you very much for your comment. The routine you mention is a very important aspect when people from different cultures meet. If I’m asked to keep my shoes on, how many times can I “insist” to taking them off and what are the signals the host is actually offering me to keep them on by respect? I would ask three times for example and observe what others did. I had some awkward situations where I insisted to take them off, having the host insisting quite clearly that I had to keep them on, just to notice once entered the living room that other guests had taken their shoes off. – And the other way around too… I think that when one sends contradicting signals, it’s tricky to really not make a faux pas.
I’m a bit intregued by what you mention in the last paragraph: would then being civilised, modern and urbane equal keeping the shoes on, and taking them off, be “rural, poor, uneducated”? I would like to know more what makes especially friends behave this way, as I think that is a clear sign of disrespect and distance, don’t you think? Would they talk about this overtly or is this the way you perceived their behaviour?
I have regularly hosted dinner parties at my house over the years and theme parties with up to twenty people. I have always had a ‘shoes off’ policy and it has always worked well. If you ask your first guests to arrive nicely you will get them out of their shoes no trouble at all. As other guests arrive they just follow suit. Stocking feet or barefoot is clean, gentle and friendly and is a good leveller and my house is totally barefoot friendly. It’s never been an issue for me but you need to go the right way about it.
Thank you very much, Steven (or Catherine?), for sharing how you proceed with guests. I did the same when I was a student and sometimes it still works, but sometimes people “don’t follow the others” and it happens that some just keep on their shoes 😉
I guess it also depends on how familar you are with the person, if you dare to tell them.
I’m from Russia and we always take shoes off in the house all year around. It is extremely rude behaviour to come to someone’s home and not to do it. It is seen as a sign of disrespect toward those who cleaned the floor. Guests are usually provided with slippers and most of people have wool carpets in each room. If it is a party and people want to look nice, they can bring a pair of washed shoes and wear them inside the house (pointy heels are not advised by etiquette since they can damage some types of floor). Also during autumn/winter/spring time kids bring clean “second” shoes to school and kindergarten. Winter boots are not allowed be worn during classes for health reasons: it is usually very hot inside the buildings during heating season (+18C is minimal allowed temperature, +23-24C is normal) and feet in boots with fur inside will sweat a lot. Also sand and mud dry eventually and when kids run and play during breaks, this dust mixed with anti-ice chemicals would be in the air, which increases chances to get lungs diseases. Since heating season is 6 months per year on the south of country and 9 months on the North, health consequences can be serious.
I’m in USA currently and it is hard for me to step on carpets in shoes, if I visit someone’s home. One of relatives of my husband always ask to take shoes off in their home (they have extremely soft and beautiful silk rugs, it is just a crime to abuse them), and other relatives do not like it a lot and complain about it. They see it as snobbish attitude toward family members and disrespect toward older relatives. I see it as a great opportunity to feel comfortable during dinners and parties. So everything depends on customs, people grew up with.
Thank you, Tanya, for your reply and for sharing your experience. It’s very interesting to see what is considered and perceived as rude in the different cultures! : I agree that it depends on customs people grew up with, but I think that some will adopt habits they find “better”at some point in their life, like this taking off their shoes when visiting, and change.
Super interesting post! I’m Asian American and growing up, I honestly thought it was only an Asian thing! All the non-Asian people around me did not do this so I felt uncomfortable asking people to take off their shoes when they visited. My husband is white and when I met him, he wasn’t as familiar with it, but now is very adamant about everyone taking off their shoes, lol. We even have a sign at the door that asks people to take off their shoes. It is so cool to hear about all the cultures and reasons for this here! Thanks for sharing and opening up this discussion!
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To be honest, I don’t understand what is so difficult in taking your shoes off. I’m a Polish and I grew up with the habit of taking my shoes off when entering a house or a flat, but it seems to me natural. What is more, when I get back home after a day away at work/doing shopping etc., I feel release that my feet can finally rest and “breathe”.
Thank you very much for your comment. It is natural for everyone who grows up with this habit. It’s common sense and, like you say, like a ritual, a habit. But not everyone grows up like that and when cultures “collide”, i.e. when you happen to visit somoeone who doesn’t have the same experience, you experience your own boundaries – and the ones of others.
Taking off the shoes when entering a private home – or even some public places like schools, offices in some countries! – is an interesting topic when it comes to cross cultural awareness.
@swiatopowiadan From what I’ve heard from others who are uncomfortable taking off their shoes is that they don’t know how clean someone’s house is and don’t want their feet to get dirty from the house (which is a little insulting if you’re a guest, tbh). They say that their shoes keep THEIR feet clean from other people’s dirtiness… Some are just plain lazy and their shoes are hard to take off and put back on. Others possibly just feel vulnerable without shoes.
But I completely agree! I automatically take off my shoes when entering any residence.
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Thank you Ky, for your comment. Yes, I had the same reaction sometimes, when entering homes where the floor wasn’t very clean… and you know that you’ll get sticky things on your feet if you take off your shoes… It may sound insulting, but honestly, some houses are just not the way we expect them to be or the way we would feel comfortable walking around without shoes. I’ve had parts of lollypops and I don’t know what on my feet while walking in the house of a friend during a child’s birthdayparty… you don’t want to know what my socks looked like. And I really felt uncomfortable in stepping in my shoes when leaving (all sticky and a bit wet from sweet drinks etc. that were spilled over the floor).
And yes, some really feel more vulnerable without shoes. 😉
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Very interesting… I grew up in middle Tennessee, traveled often to friends’ homes all over the southeast U.S., spent time in Oregon, California and never was asked to remove my shoes when visiting anyone’s home. After moving to Houston, Texas several years ago, I have experienced this request 2 times. Virtually everyone keeps their shoes on in my world. Seeing people in a social situation without shoes would be very odd. Removing one’s shoes seems like asking them to partially undress even in the case of good friends. A little too intimate for social gatherings.
When we are at home, we may or may not remove our shoes. It depends on the comfort level of the shoes more than anything. Obviously, if one’s shoes are covered in muck, then removing them would be expected, but not for any other reason. Most women I know do not wear socks nor stockings with nice shoes. Running around at someone’s else’s home in bare feet just seems undesirable and very awkward. Who wants to put on socks or slippers when the best part of many outfits is the shoes?
Thank you Cathy, for your very interesting comment. It gives me more insight into habits in different states in the U.S., which is great! It would be very valuable to have a map with “shoe habits” concerning this topic 😉
I must say that women don’t wear socks or stockings with nice shoes here either. It’s more common when wearing boots.
And being bare feet is not the way people usually walk around when not wearing shoes. This is why some people would either bring socks to put on and wear in the friends’ house (while taking off shoes) – if they didn’t wear them in their shoes, of course – or bring slippers, or ask for some if they would otherwise be bare feet.
I completely agree that taking off your beautiful shoes when invited is not what you want, it’s part of the outfit, but this, I think, would then be a more formal invitation where people might be allowed to keep their shoes on, right? If I visit a friend and am wearing my nicest shoes, I would still take off my shoes. But not if the occasion is formal.
@expatsincebirth I think RemembertheAlamo is replying to Shoe Loving Southerner and not you 😉
Oh, I see – should have checked the whole thread, I’m sorry. I was replying from my phone as ma computer just ‘died’… thanks Luna 😉
Yes Luna, you have the right of it. That initial post wasn’t meant to be a commentary on expatsincebirth, but to ShoeLovingSoutherner. I do appreciate the reply though. Tip of the hat to both of y’all.
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Thanks for following up! I am a big fan of cultural anthropology which is what this sounds like!…:) To recap, I am an American who has mostly lived in the Southeast region of the U.S. So about your comment… To reiterate: There is virtually no place (except for just 2 times in my life) when I have been asked to remove my shoes upon visiting someone’s home. Even for a casual visit, I (as well as any of my friends that have discussed this with me) would never expect to be asked to remove footwear. Whether for a nice party or even a casual get together, there would be no way I could ever imagine seeing people prancing around in stocking feet. That seems both juvenile and unseemly. And certainly no one I know would assume that they would have to bring socks (yuck!) or slippers (seriously??.. these are for private home use only in my book.) to visit someone.
This is not at all the norm in any place I have lived and I do socialize a great deal, plus work for a lifestyle magazine. This is equivalent of asking one’s friends to get partially undressed to enter their homes. In fact, when anyone I know has been asked to remove their shoes on rare occasions, it is always considered rude and very irritating.
Quite honestly, the 2 times this happened to me completely shocked me and made me not ever want to visit those homes again. It was just very awkward to stand around without shoes on and have a social conversation. So around where I grew up, visited (including a stint in Paris) and live now, asking guests to remove their shoes is not at all normal, expected and actually considered quite bizarre.
When he was new to the family, my brother-in-law used to take off his shoes before he came in my mom’s home and we all found that so odd and really inappropriate. Way too intimate and just strange to the rest of the family. So everyone else can do as they wish, but I would never in a million years subject my guests to such a request. That would hate that just as much as I would. And really…How hard is it to clean up one’s floor after guests leave?
Shoes on 4EVER!
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Hey there fellow Southerner,
You seem to be mighty upset for some reason that doesn’t seem very apparent. Sounds to me, like you need to turn your anger down a notch and remember that southern hospitality that we are so famed for. I know your momma raised you better then that, girl.
I’m also a Southerner and I fancy myself a gentleman, of a sort. However, I’ve got a mighty bone to pick with you and yours if’in y’all think it’s okay to just tromp around in your shoes where ever you please. No, we in the South observe common sense and respect when we enter a home and see the owners take off their shoes. Well, heck, we follow suit…cause manners are important. That and we want to show respect to our gracious hosts for havin’ us in their lovely home. We certainly wouldn’t want people to be yellin’ and a cursin’ up a storm in our homes, lessin’ we did that ourselves. So why would we do the equivalent by being rude with something so simple as footwear. No ma’m. It’s a simple thing to read the signs and remove your shoes where it makes other more comfortable. Ain’t nothing unseemly about it.
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Thank you very much for your comment. I’m not sure what you mean with me being angry ? I’m truly not and I’m sorry if you got this impression.
I’ve lived in the “South” too and don’t have any problem with other ways to see this topic. I find it highly intersting and an aspect of cultural barriers and misunderstandings. And I think this is what just happened. I respect other peoples boundaries and that taking off shoes is something that for some of us is like asking someone to take off a shirt: you wouldn’t do this, right?
What is “common sense” for you, is not necessarily common sense for someone else. And “manners” or “suit” are strongly related to a culture, their beliefs, values. I completely agree that taking off shoes – no matter if in the South, North, East or West 😉 – is a way to respect the host.
I agree with you that it is clearly a matter of “reading the signs”. But, and please allow me to say this: sometimes we can’t read the clues. Especially if we are new in the culture and don’t know what is expected from us or – and this happened many many times to me, and I’m sure to many others – we receive contradictive messages. Like, when entering a home of someone I really know and know that they take off shoes and I know the setting is less “familiar” and ask “shall I take off my shoes?” and they say “no no, please keep them on” 😉 Then I’m tempted to insist – because I truly respect the host! – but will do what I’m told by the host, right?
I’m sorry if my post or any of my responses sounded upset: this was truly not my intention. – I wish you a lovely day.
Not wearing hose with shoes is more common in the warmer months here. in the winter tights or stockings or socks are generally worn and always with boots. In the summer with sandals no socks of course but with flats I and some of my friends will wear peds. Shoes off in the winter is never in question. For formal parties shoes remain on although if the weather is bad they are carried and put on after arrival. In the summer I usually have socks in my purse or am wearing peds
I usually take my shoes off inside (although in summer, I’m often not wearing shoes in the first place) but have learnt to watch for cues when visiting a person’s home. Usually if you’re visiting an east Asian’s home it’s a pretty safe bet. I learnt the hard way not to just assume I could take off my shoes when I was an exchange student in Spain, and my host mother ripped into me about “staining” the floor with my apparently greasy, grubby socked feet. If she’d just mentioned it the first day, I wouldn’t have been taking my shoes off inside – I don’t know why she didn’t say anything, given that I had a couple of host-brothers arrive a few weeks later who were Korean! It seems the thought of cultural difference which can be very easy to address.
Thank you for your comments, Rachel! What you experienced in Spain is quite common in Italy etc. too. On marmor floors for example, greasy feet (sorry, I just repeat your words 😉 ) would do no good to the floor, i.e. be perceived as an offense to the host because it means that they need to clean after you when you leave… (marmor floor is not easy to be kept clean and shiny but it’s an important asset in an Italian house for example).
What you say about your host mother told you could have been avoided by her knowing about your habits and you knowing about hers. But this is not something you can read in guides, right? So how would you know? Sometimes we don’t know in what and to what extent our cultures differ until we experience this kind of situations 😉
I know it’s all to do with what you’re used to, but I don’t understand some of the comments about how dirty it is and how difficult to clean up when people take their shoes off indoors. I mean, I can understand the same complaints about barefooting completely (which is pretty common where I live in Australia), but… Well, the other day after sweeping a dining-room at a group campsite, I watched people come in with their shoes and drop dust and leaf fragments and other things which had been caught in their soles all over the floor, and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “How much cleaner is it without shoes?”
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Rachel, I understand why you wonder. I think it has to do with the fact that bare feet or feet in socks can be perceived as not so hygienic by some cultures. It has to do with personal boundaries too. Sometimes it’s “cleaner” (or looks cleaner…) with shoes, sometimes it feels cleaner without. I think it’s also an attention shift: making a favour to the host (by respecting his or her clean house) or making feel the guest comfortable (by asking him or her to either keep shoes on or take them off).
When I was younger, I lived in Asia where it is customary to take your outdoor shoes off when you enter any home. Not only did it serve hygienic purposes, but I was raised with the philosophy that your home, your sanctuary, is like an extension of your soul — you try to keep it free from the dirt of the outside world, if that makes any sense. When we moved to the U.S., my parents maintained this upbringing, and now I teach my own children the same tradition. They have no trouble telling their friends to take their shoes off when they visit our house, and their friends don’t see it as a big deal either. We’ve recently moved to the South and I must say that I’m shocked at the lack of manners they supposedly have. Calling another culture’s custom “juvenile,” “unseemly,” “rude,” and “irritating” says more about how closed-minded some people are. I don’t usually ask guests to take off their shoes because I understand that some might feel uncomfortable, but I would hope they’d “read the signs” (a bunch of shoes right next to the front door, homeowners wearing socks, baby crawling on the floor…) and follow suit as a sign of respect for the homeowner. I feel more comfortable asking close family relatives, but here’s the kicker — my husband’s Latino, and I recently learned certain relatives grew up with a Spanish superstition that one can get sick walking barefoot. Even though they’ve commented on how immaculately spotless I keep the house they’d literally eat cake off the floors, they still insist on keeping their shoes on. I regularly clean and disinfect the floors regardless (mainly for the health and safety of my baby), but this already tedious task is that much harder when guests walk around in their shoes.
Thank you so much for your comment, “Stormageddon”! I so agree with you that “calling another culture’s custom “juvenile”, “unseemly”, “rude” and “irritating” says more about how close-minded some people are” – and how scared they are of the “other” the “different”. You can see it in the details and in more apparent behaviours. When my children were still babies I was much more sensible to the “take off your shoes” for exactly the same reason you mention and I would frantically clean the floors when visitors walked in with shoes. I really like this “home is your sanctuary, like the extension of your soul” philosophy and it makes very much sense to me. It’s only a bit difficult if you share it with others who don’t have the same philosophy. What you say about the Spanish superstition reminds me of what my mother also used to say when we walked barefoot on cold floors (i.e. tiles not carpet). I think this is the reason? You could suggest they bring their socks from home and wear them instead? You probably would tell only people who come more often and who are family. – Leaving signs in the entrance area like you do seems to work usually, but, alas, not always…
We’ve lived in several locations and I have found that generally children were always asked to remove their shoes. It’s a habit for my son now. I have a question for you and your readers. I am teaching a class for children about to move overseas. In France, in preschool, my son had to have house shoes as part of his school supples. We moved to another country before his elementary years. Do European preschool and elementary schools still require house shoes?
Dear Tara, it surely is a good habit to take off shoes when coming home and it’s good if children can learn it early. Not all preschools in Europe require house shoes. I’ve never experienced this in Italy for example and not in the Netherlands either. it’s a good question and I’d love to investigate this further.
Oh, so, wow. 100 % scary. Arrogant and stuck up to the highest order. This is 2016. Not 312 B.C. for Christ’s sake. I’m sorry that I have to actually tell anyone that. Just because something is “custom” does not make it o.k. and or logical. More proof people will fall for anything. I do know one thing. I need to make it a rule for someone to enter the premise of my household to take all of their rings, pearls, necklaces, jewelry, and piercings off for “thou is thy custom and thy host’s rule”. Two can play these mind games. Yeah, I buy that. The upper class don’t have to take their shoes off because they are not MORONS! Jesus.
Alex, I understand that you interpret this whole discussion as hilarious and from the “upper class” perspective? What is custom for one is not for another person/culture. What is customary is based on beliefs, values and habits etc.. – If you want to have your own rules in your house, you obviously can, but please, don’t call people morons because they don’t take off their shoes.
Yes, Alex, I know. Thanks for specifying this. – And no, it’s not your fault.
Taking off your shoes to help protect your carpet is a must!
If you’re not going to take off your shoes, entry rugs is the way to go for sure.
However, I’ve seen when people take off their socks too. The oils from feet will actually be hard on the carpet as well. So the best is entry rugs, take off your shoes, but keep your socks on. 😉
That’s a good point… I have to say that I struggle when people take off their shoes in summer an walk around barefoot. One should always have slippers or socks at hand for that.
I’m a man I do not like to go into shoes. For me, shoes are a kind of torture instruments. My bare feet are the best shoes. And I’m a “barefoot hiker”, anytime and anywhere, but I’m happier in the mountains.
And of the subject of this post, of course I’m barefoot all the time in my home. When I go to someone, I’m the same. And if I get guests in my house, I ask them to off their shoes. And if they do not understand, this is a sign of poor growth. And another time I will not invite them to my house anymore.
Thanks and all the best for you ! Life is better without shoes !!!
Dinu (from Romania)
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Dear Dino, thank you so much for your comment! I completely understand and it’s great if you can go barefoot everywhere: I’d love to know more about your “barefoot hiking” as it can be a bit painful on some stones, but I guess one gets used to it? I enjoy going barefoot in the summer, especially on grass and sand though. I guess that people who know you like going barefoot too, right? I don’t know what and where you work, but would also your boss take off the shoes and go barefoot? I’m just curious. I love to know how other people live and what they think about this topic.
I agree that life would be better without shoes: I guess we’ve lost the touch with nature especially in cities etc. Thanks a lot for sharing and I’d love to know more 😉 Ute
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I thank you, dear Ute. I live in Bucharest (Romania) and I work as a major pharmacist in a big hospital. But for this reason, I can not be barefoot in my lab. I have to wear some white leather slippers for protection. In them I feel like in jail. But this torture lasts only 7 hours a day.
I have discovered the pleasure of being free and happy – walking barefoot since 3 years old when I lived in my country, my grandparents. I liked to be in direct contact with Mother Nature, through green grass, dew, bruise, even in the fluffy snow of winter. Then I went to the mountains. Yes, it was a bit difficult at first, but I got used to it very quickly, but all the environmental conditions. And now, this “hobby” is still very lively and powerful.
And I am part of an international organization: Society for Barefoot Living
“Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living – being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It’s the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes, or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It’s a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature.
— Adele Coombs, “Barefoot Dreaming”
I wish you all the best, with healthy and happiness, in Peace !