There’s this ongoing battle in many countries. The dispute can destroy dinner parties and make friendships awkward. Some people compare this battle to the War of the Roses, eternal until death do us part.
It is called – The Battle of Wearing Shoes Indoors!
I for one, do not allow shoes in the house. I never have. I never will.
- I am Indian, and like all other Asians, our home is our sanctuary. To not takes shoes off is a sign of disrespect to the owners of the house.
- I am a Hindi and a Jain, and as such, our home is also a place of worship. God doesn’t like people schleeping in with shoes and shit on them.
- I live in Sweden and not wearing shoes indoors is the biggest Swedish cultural win ever. Most of the year it rains or snows in Sweden. Why on earth would you drag stone, snow, mud filled shoes into a home? And Swedes pride themselves on keeping fastidiously clean homes (Americans, for all your cleaning supplies, the Swedes are better at keeping a home tidy). Plus, Swedes find it rude to walk around in a home with shoes you wear for the outside world.
- Shoes indoors are gross. No matter how many times I hear the, “ohhh, but it can make people uncomfortable to take their shoes off. What if they have smelly feet or bunions or holey socks?” Seriously? If someone gives me that dumbass rhetorical question, my answer is “maybe you should see a doctor and buy a pair of socks without holes.”
- I am lazy and do not want to wipe scuff marks or water marks from your shoes in my home.
- Your home is your home. You have the right to ask, request, and in standoffs, demand people to remove their shoes. Just as a guest does not have the right to eat food not served to them or throw their coats on the floor or eat before the host (in a formal dinner), a guest can certainly take their shoes off.
- Wearing shoes all the time is stifling for my feet. Who wants their feet to be smushed all day long in a pair of sneakers or heels?
When I grew up, half the homes I would visit would take their shoes off and half would not. Even when I lived in New York and the temperature was -30C and blizzard conditions, I saw some friends keep their shoes on.
At my birthday parties, which occurred in December, my mom would always run around and ensure kids took those shoes off. I’m glad she did; no wants to clean up snow blizzard crap on the carpet. Plus, it was a to teach the kids, and adults, that we do ask for respect when you come into our home.
There were always some kids who would cry when they had to take their shoes off. They probably turned into the same adults who “can never take their shoes off because I’ve been doing it for 15 years.” Gross, don’t you want your feet to get some air? No wonder athlete’s foot is a huge problem in the United States.
But after doing some reading, the shoes on indoors turns out to be Anglo-Saxon tradition. Britain, northern Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, and some South American countries.
The Daily Mail had a hilarious article about wearing shoes indoors.
“Is asking guests to remove their shoes before they cross your threshold good housekeeping or horribly naff? After all, the suggestion is that your friends’ shoes are so grubby that they are bound to be treading something unspeakable over your carpets.”
Insinuating that your friends shoes are “so grubby” is misleading; shoes ARE dirty. What “unspeakables” would someone tread? Dirt, leaves, mud, water, snow, stones, dog shit, cigarette butts, snus, gum. No unspeakables here, shoes tread dirt.
“One poster wondered whether it was OK to ask guests to remove their footwear at the housewarming party she was hosting. ‘No,’ was the overwhelming response.
‘I’m picturing a Barratt home, twigs in a vase covered in fairylights and that Ikea picture of pebbles,’ sniped one woman on the forum.”
Remind me to never invite the nay-sayers into my home.
“Podiatrist Kate Millns says: ‘Asking people to remove their shoes is giving your guests unnecessary stress, as most people like to keep their feet hidden. It’s more hygienic to make them keep their shoes on, especially if they are not wearing socks or tights.”
By far the most bizarre of all, how does keeping one shoes on be more hygienic than taking them off? Honestly, if your feet smell a lot, you should be seeing a doctor, and possibly not wearing shoes every second of every day.
What to do in a Nordic household:
- Please do take your shoes off being being asked to do-so. The whole “Opps, I’m American, I didn’t realize it” is a lame and disrespectful excuse to a homeowner.
- If you are attending a dinner party and do want to wear a pair of heels, ask the host if it is okay to bring the heels in a bag. Clean the soles with soap and water and wrap them up in a nice bag to take to the party.
- I sometimes take a pair of my flat jutas to a party. I have cold feet and these shoes are meant for indoors only. They’re also very cute and stylish.
- Some hosts will have a strict no shoes policy. That is especially true with people who have soft wooden floors. My friend had an inflytningsfest (housewarming party) and made the mistake of allowing people to wear clean heels in the house. Only two of the thirty or so guests did. And one of them left divits across a brand new floor. We tracked her “footprints” from the living room to the entrance to the bathroom and around. The cost to steam and fix the imprints will be 3000-6000SEK.
- When in Sweden, embrace some new traditions. This is an instance of a great tradition.
- Buy a shoe rack and a chair to help make it easier for guests to arrange their shoes and sit comfortably when taking them off.
- Last, think about how much money you can save when not needing to buy shoes in Sweden for every new outfit! I call that winning!
From the forum, Imamother.com:
“Yes its YOUR home but wouldnt you want people to be comfortable in your home? Lets say they put on their worst pair of socks with holes in the front, not knowing that you had such a “policy”. Would you like to take the risk of embarrasing the visitor by them having to wear “holey socks” or putting them in the position of not wanting to take them off?”
If my friends had a pair of holey socks, it is not my problem. It’s also NOT for me to make fun of them and make it an issue.
One of these days, I will stitch a sign to say “Inga Skor.” And if someone questions me, I will say “we’re Swedes, take off your damn shoes!”