Sunday, January 24, 2016

Clarissa' Blog: How Much of a Soviet Person Are You? A Quiz

Clarissa' Blog: How Much of a Soviet Person Are You? A Quiz

3. When you visit other people’s houses, the first thing you do is remove your shoes.

A. Of course! It’s rude to trample around other people’s living quarters! – 10 pts.

B. Of course not! It’s rude to run around strangers barefoot or, even worse, in socks. – 0 pts.

C. It depends on the weather. – 0 pts.


Removing shoes in homes is customary in every former Soviet country, except perhaps Armenia. It's also customary in the former Yugoslavia and the rest of Eastern Europe.

It is interesting that removing shoes is just as big in the social democratic Nordic countries. It's hard not to shake off the impression that in a European context, removing shoes is a bit Left-wing. It is a rather levelling, egalitarian custom. Expecting guests to take their shoes off is not at all bourgeois.

In the USA it's probably seen differently. Having a shoes-off policy might indicate that you have a very expensive house and you want to show off its value to guests. Not a perception that is necessarily true. Somebody who is poor and can't afford regular carpet cleaning is likely to benefit more from a shoes-off policy than somebody who is more affluent.

1 comment:

Paul said...

I never thought of the Soviets, of all people, being a role model for us Westerners. The shoe traditions in the Nordic countries might have something to do with the climate there, rather than the "egalitarian" cultures of those countries. As of the Eastern European countries, might have to do with the Mongol conquests in the medieval times. As of the US, house cleaning is cheap here and many of us have maids and so guests walking around in shoes don't cause extra work for us. Plus we like to look proper here, and this includes wearing shoes. Just my two cents.