taking off shoes

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Ruzete, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. Ruzete

    Ruzete Well-Known Member

    I read about how Czechs take their shoes off when going into houses, and when i watched Kolya I noticed that when they went into the hospital they had something on there feet, is that like a slip that goes over your shoes when in public buildings? Do you do that for school,the mall, restaurants?
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    The custom of taking off one´s shoes is given by politeness and consideration for the host, as they like and work hard to keep the house or apartment clean. Somewhere they even offer some slippers so that you do not have to stay barefooted. On the contrary, the use of shoe covers or slips in hospitals is being abandoned, as it was found that - instead of protecting the floors - they spread the dust and germs around. It was never used anywhere else (restaurants, movie theaters, schools etc.). In schools, the kids are supposed (and obliged) to wear school slippers.
  3. uuspoiss

    uuspoiss Well-Known Member

    I've been to quite a lot of different countries and never have I seen anyone else but Americans walk around their own and someone else's houses with street shoes on. It's an interesting habit:)
  4. rhenium3

    rhenium3 Active Member

    I understand where it comes from (the taking off shoes). When my American friends are here and they don't my house is a complete mess and it drives me insane. Plus sometimes they take off their shoes and leave them in the middle of the room later if I don't make them take it off at the door (okay, perhaps only my brother, the mess bugger!)
  5. Coccinella

    Coccinella Guest

    I was told that taking off your shoes when entering a flat or house (no matter if your own's or someone else's) is a sign of respect for those who have cleaned it up before. In fact the streets are often dirty with sleet or mud in most "cold" countries. There isn't such a practise in Italy either, so I was quite puzzled the first time I saw people taking off their shoes before entering their apartment... :oops: Now this practise has entered my own domestic routine, though I just keep it for myself and my partner and, occasionally, I extend it to my parents and very close friends.
    I have a feeling it would be regarded as rude here in Italy to ask somebody who came around to see you if they could take off their shoes...see how the points of view change according to different cultures? :eek: That's interesting indeed! :)
  6. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    In Japan, everybody, including visitors, take off their shoes and turn them towards the door when they enter the little lobby of a house or an apartment. Walking with one' s shoes on in a home is simply unthinkable.
    I also noticed the same custom with the Czechs, and I have a great esteem for them because of that.
  7. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Well, it is really rude not to take your shoes off entering someone's home. By not doing so you indicate that you think that there is no difference in cleanliness between their home and dirty street. It shows HIGH disregard for the care they took to keep their home clean.

    They keep slippers for their guests, but if you mind, then bring your own slippers - that is acceptable. It would make them smile with delight and show how considerate and clean person you are.
  8. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    As Coccinella wrote, in Italy it is unusual to take off one’s shoes when visiting somebody’s house but, of course, before stepping in people rub their shoes properly on a doormat. In some houses you sometimes find pads (some sort of open slippers), which you can place under your shoes and “glide” around the house.
    I think in counties like the Czech Republic or Poland (the only two places I can talk about) it is more natural to take off shoes (a habit I really like by the way) also because there is an extensive use of carpet floor and carpets in general (which unfortunately is not extremely hygienic in my opinion) while in Italy I normally find floor tiles or wooden floors.

  9. cecilia6162

    cecilia6162 New Member

    Here in America, Some people will take their shoes off before entering, some do not. But you will almost always find a door mat in front of the door used to wipe your feet before you enter. Children here are often told to wipe their feet before they come in. I would prefer one to take their shoes off before entering my home, unless of course one has a severe case of sneakarouses. :)
  10. TamaraD

    TamaraD New Member

    I love in The Netherlands and here in Western Europe i have never seen someone take their shoes of, except small children when they go and play, or when i visit a friend for a sleepover or something..

    I think it is a very thoughtful habit of the Czechs and i should do so when in CR, however, i dont think its disrespectful if you don't, cause it's just not a habit in Western Europe!
  11. czechchris

    czechchris Well-Known Member

    We always are provided with slippers when entering the homes of friends in CR, and here in England we too do the same. We ask visitors to remove their shoes (unless it is inappropriate - in which case we ask them to use the mat before entering.)
    As for public buildings, a few years ago we were provided with overshoes when we visited Troja zamek, but last week we were allowed to walk around in outside shoes. (It was raining outside too.)
  12. TamaraD

    TamaraD New Member

    Well, I guess it must be a London-thing then in Great Britain, cause every place i come, both at friends and at the house of people i havent met before, i have never been asked to take my shoes of or cover them up.. And i often travel all around england, schotland and wales..
  13. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Growing up, we never took off our shoes. Then I married a Czech and he insist people take off their shoes. My family does not handle it well. They get very offended when they come over and we ask them to take off their shoes. They act as if it is such a great inconvenience for them. Since I'm the one doing all the housework (I found European men are not that helpful in housework), I prefer that people take off their shoes. I just wish my family felt the same about it. Many of them just rudely ignore our request, and walk in the house with their shoes on. My husband gets offended and tells them to take them off, then they get offended. It's a mess. Literally. :lol:
  14. Katuska

    Katuska New Member

    Hello all,
    I am Czech though living abroad at the moment. In my opinion taking off your shoes is a very good idea...you know.... especially springs and autumns can be quite "muddy" in the Czech Rep. so thanks God that most people would never dare enter your flat or house in their dirty shoes:)) It is aso true that most Czech people have carpets - usually of a light colour - everywhere, so it would be very difficult to keep their house or flat tidy and clean:)
  15. Sorsa

    Sorsa Member

    In Finland you must take your shoes off whenever you enter a persons home or flat. It is the way it is in my house too and I like it and I admit it seems strange when someone does not. :?
  16. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    dzurisovak: I had same lifelong situation in Canada with my father-in-law (his wife followed his line of thought). They are both gone now, but I do have to say that for 25 years we played this "silent" game. My spouse (I stayed out of this) explained to them many times that the reason for taking shoes off is out of consideration to keep our house clean, at every visit she tried again and again....but as you write, they never followed our wishes (mud or not). I could never understand WHY it was such a problem .....and yes, you are right, it was almost like THEY were offended that we asked them to take their shoes off. It was never ending "silent fight". We always brought our slippers to their home -they never took their shoes off when they came from outside. Their argument was "they never take their shoes off in their home".

    Perhaps someone can explain WHY such a polite request (asking once should be enough) would be considered "offensive".
  17. czechchris

    czechchris Well-Known Member

    I agree with you, Magan, that I cannot understand why such a request should be considered offensive.
    I was taught that, out of consideration for the cleanliness of my host's home, I should remove my shoes when entering (or at very least OFFER to do so).
    I have had to remove chewing-gum from my living-room carpet, and that is not a pleasant task! We now have new carpets, which are a light colour, and I would be hurt if someone INSISTED on wearing dirty outside shoes in my home.
    I have bought slippers for guests to use - following the custom I saw in operation in CR - but not everyone wants to use them. I myself am usually barefoot at home. Most of my circle of friends also follow the custom of removing shoes.
  18. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    I would be interested to hear somebody explain why it's offensive to be asked to remove your shoes in somebody else's house. It's not like socks are something dirty (oh, unintentional double meaning! :)) and it sounds like most people who want their visitors shoeless offer them slippers anyway. I've seen more shoe removing in Central Europe - Germany, Austria, ČR - not much in the US and less than half the time in Spain. The first time I went as a student we were told that it was expected that we remove our shoes in the house, but it wasn't a hard and fast rule. My Spanish boyfriend wears his street shoes inside in the winter. Maybe it helps that most people in Spain (that I've seen) don't have carpeting, if they have anything at all, it's just little throw rugs that can be washed pretty easily and a little dirt sweeps right off the bare floor.
  19. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    There may be too reasons it is offensive to people. 1st, it's a hassle for people, they have to untie and tie and most Americans are lazy, let's admit.

    Secondly, perhaps, they are embarrased to show their socks. Sometimes white socks don't always stay so white. Sometimes, people have smelly feet because they don't always wear clean socks. Sometimes, they may have holes in their socks or mismatched socks.

    In the summer, people wear sandles so they don't have socks and maybe they don't want to walk around in the home barefoot. I know if I were to put out slippers for guest, Americans would frown at that. They would not want to put their feet into a slipper someone else was wearing just for the reasons listed above.

    Anyway, we continue our ongoing battle with my family. However, we don't usually ask 1st time visitors to remove their shoes. Especially if its a formal visit. Our white carpet is no longer white and we have decided to tear it up and refinish the hardwood floors. However, it doesn't solve the problem. They will only eventually ruin the $500 throw rug we will have to put down.

    Americans and their stubborn ways!! :) :roll:
  20. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah...I forgot that most people aren't as careful about their footwear as I am :p Still, embarrassment is one thing but I think it's overreacting to take offense.

    Heck, they should be more offended by this. :lol: But you forgot to mention the difficulty of reaching your feet over a big, fat, American belly. :wink:

    But if everybody takes their shoes off, you wouldn't be getting your feet dirty. Well, you might have to be careful in the kitchen.

    By the way, I'm not attacking your reasoning dzurisovak, I just like to play the devil's advocate. :twisted:

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