I remember the first time my husband, Ferdinand, then just a friend, asked me to take my shoes off after we had entered his house. I just looked at him in amazement as to why I should remove my amazing pair of adorable, red, ½ inch heeled, slip on, Italian pumps. They completed my outfit, made me feel accessorized, they were red, my favourite color for shoes because they stated “here I am.”
After some seconds of staring at him, watching him change into house slippers, and then noticing other shoes in the entryway, I asked him to clarify. He’s not a man of words or details so he just said, “ya”. Not really understanding or wanting to take my shoes off, I just started inside with my shoes on. He stopped me and repeated, “you take your shoes off.” Can you believe we ended up marrying??? I again asked for more details. He then explained, “because you leave your shoes here.” Very German with his short and direct imperative sentences, isn’t he! My son & husband above, cuties, eh!
Germans, along with other countries such as Japan, Russia, Korea, Turkey, Thailand, India, and other Eastern countries have the custom of removing shoes in homes. The no shoe policy also carries over to Scandinavian countries, most European countries, some African countries, and a majority of the Middle East. In Germany, every party or gathering, meant leaving a pile of shoes at the entry way. Even our gym enforced taking your street shoes off and wearing different sneakers while working out.
Imagine having such a love of shoes that you own some 68 pairs (that’s 136 shoes), then you move to a country that hasn’t any real appreciation of shoes, only treating their shoes as a sole means of comfort and even exiling them from homes. Hello culture shock!
For the health of your children and family, especially babies or toddlers;
why you shouldn’t wear shoes in the house
- Shoes pick up and carry into your home toxins and chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, traces of petrol fumes, industrial pollution, human and animal waste.
- Bacteria brought in from shoes can cause stomach and lung infections
- EPA conducted a “door mat study” showing that 60% less lead dust and other chemicals were brought into the home by removing shoes and using a front door mat. There was also a reduction in allergens and bacteria tracked into the home.
Further lovely reasons why to go shoeless in the home
- Better for the growing feet of children
- Your feet can breathe, healthier for your feet and more comfortable
- Can create a more relaxed atmosphere in the home
- You have to sweep and dust your home less
- Psychologically, helps everyone to enter a frame of mind where home is comfortable and troubles are left at the door
- By removing their shoes, guests even might feel more welcome, comfortable and a part of the family.
- An easy and cheap way to go green, invest in a pair of slippers for you and your guests and leave shoes at the front door
Also, when I attended my mother-in-law’s classroom, in Germany, she is an elementary school teacher, I observed a no shoe policy at her school. All the children entered the school, and before entering classrooms or walking around the school, they immediately change into slippers which are stored in their lockers.
It took me nearly a year to understand this cultural difference. In the end, I not only understood it, appreciated it, but more than accepted it. Now that we live in the states, I have implemented the rule of no shoe wearing in our home. I even became fanatic about it after having my son. I’m a big believer in adopting different cultural practices when they are better than your own cultural norm. Personally, we love to not wear shoes around in our home. Everyone has “inside” Birks or house slippers to wear. However, while we have the no-shoe (or rather no “street shoe”) policy in the home, we don’t ask guests to take their shoes off when visiting, unless they are coming over often…(In 2012, with the birth of my twins and observing my 2 yr old playing all over the floors, we changed this policy and do ask all guests to take their shoes off before walking in our home)
Thanks to my German family for opening up this cultural awareness and the Stoops for giving me this idea to write about. Still not convinced? Then, check this reference out, Good Morning America.