Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wandering Educators: The quiet custom of removing your shoes

Wandering Educators: The quiet custom of removing your shoes

'As a white American with Eastern European heritage, I come from a culture where you do not remove your shoes as soon as you enter someone else's house. You wear your shoes in the house, removing them when sitting or climbing on things such as a bed or sofa. Growing up, I had one friend whose family removed their shoes when they entered their house. I found this extremely strange as a child. I always had questions, such as do they leave all their shoes by the door? I had about eight pairs of shoes as a child, and I wondered if I lived there, would all eight pairs stay by the door all the time? How could you see how your outfit looked without seeing the whole complete outfit, including shoes? Does their dad get to keep less of his shoes by the door since they take up more room? What if you forgot something in the house and had to run back in at last minute? I had so many questions about this culturally strange custom.

Fast forward to 2011. I meet my now husband at a beach bonfire party in Bermuda where we both live and work. The first time I entered his house to "casually hang out," I saw him remove his shoes and place them by the front door. I followed suit, awkwardly removing my shoes as well, curling my toes under, as I felt slightly strange and exposed. Shoes, like clothes, can be worn like armor; imagine a pair of knee-high leather black books or even sexy high heels, all armor. A first "hang-out" with a guy you think is extremely attractive requires armor. I, however choose to wear flip-flops - it is Bermuda.

Many cultures participate in the custom of removing of shoes upon entering a home or religious place. Mainly Asian cultures, most notably Japanese and Indian, partake of this etiquette.'

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