Tradition of removing shoes in home

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     Shoes removed.
     Shoes not removed.
A Japanese genkan with removed shoes

In some cultures there is a tradition of removing your shoes in the home and places like church, temples and schools.

In the world[edit]

Europe[edit]

Germany, Austria, and Northern Europe[edit]

In Northern Europe and Austria, it is considered rude and unhygienic to keep the shoes on while entering a house, at least if it is boots or sneakers. If it is dress shoes or high-heels and it is a more formal social occasion it is accepted to keep the shoes on, but then it is understood to be shoes that you do not use on an everyday basis. This tradition is also very common (but to a lesser extent, except for Austria-influenced Bavaria) in Germany.

UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium[edit]

In the Netherlands and Belgium, people usually don't wear shoes indoors. In the United Kingdom shoes have traditionally been kept on, unless there are certain weather conditions (for example, snow) or a certain type of floor or carpet. However it is now becoming increasingly common to take them off at all times. In Ireland however it is very uncommon to take your shoes off when entering a house, especially for visitors.

Southwestern Europe[edit]

In Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal it is normal entering a home with shoes on. They can be removed only in rare cases, as for a wooden floor. The Italian autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an exception, where the no-shoe tradition is quite respected.

Eastern Europe[edit]

In Eastern Europe, including all Slavic countries (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, etc.), Hungary, Romania, and Moldova, most people will take off their shoes at home and will expect visitors to do so, unless it is a formal meeting or a social event. When in doubt, people will usually ask if they can keep their shoes on. When at home, some people will walk barefoot while others will wear slippers (this often depends on the type of floor covering, e.g. carpets vs wooden floor). It is common for schoolchildren to have a special pair of shoes for wearing at school, especially in winter. Some people will have a special pair of shoes for wearing at work, especially in winter. In restaurants, shops, theatres, and museums shoes are not taken off. Shoes are not taken off in churches.

Southeastern Europe (Balkans)[edit]

In Southeastern Europe (former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece), people traditionally remove their shoes and wear slippers at home, and expect guests to do so as well. However, this tradition is no longer respected in many urban households in these countries. Shoes are kept on in churches, but they are removed in mosques.

Asia[edit]

Japan is already the most famous country with this tradition, which is extended to restaurants, working places and schools. This is reflected in popular culture and in manga.

India, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China have this tradition as well as many other Asian countries.

Turkey[edit]

In Turkey, this is a widespread tradition. Cleanliness of a home is very important for families. It is also common to remove shoes in kindergarten schools and, although rarely, in some small private businesses.

Israel[edit]

Only some Israelis remove their shoes at home. During the Priestly Blessing in the synagogue, the kohanim (priests) will remove their shoes.

India[edit]

In India, it is the widespread norm to take shoes off when entering the home. It may even be considered rude for guests to keep their shoes on inside the house.

Vietnam[edit]

In Vietnam, it is a custom to remove shoes before entering any house or flat. It is also common to remove shoes in kindergarten schools and in some small private businesses.

Arabic countries[edit]

In Arabic countries, no shoes are allowed indoors, as the shoes' soles are seen as dirty and unsanitary.

America[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, taking shoes off indoors is not a tradition within the Continental United States, but is considered expected in Hawaii and Alaska. It is also more prevalent in the North East due to poor weather in the winter, as well as in the Pacific Northwest, with standards differing from household to household. This is especially the case during rainy weather, when one's shoes could easily get very muddy, wet, or dirty. However, removing of shoes is common among certain immigrant communities.

Canada[edit]

In Canada, it is generally the rule to take off your shoes when entering a person's home, although exceptions do exist.

References[edit]