Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Czechs and ..... Slippers

In the hallway of every Czech house, or in the case of many flats outside on the landing, you will find a line of empty shoes and slippers. The same is true of our Czech home. In the Czech Republic you remove your outdoor shoes on arrival and put on a pair of slippers. This is not just the case in your home, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in houses in which you are a guest.

This custom is a practical one, preventing the trailing of mud and dust from the street (to say nothing of the by-product of those little dogs the Czechs are so fond of) into the house and the subsequent damage of the lovely softwood floors that you will find in many Czech houses. In some cases your host will wave their hand to indicate that taking off your shoes is not necessary, but it is only polite to offer. In order to facilitate this custom the Czech home will have a selection of slippers in various sizes to proffer to visitors and family.

Personally I find it a lovely custom and one I adopt in England. It is not just the practicality that appeals but of feeling at home and welcome that I like. The custom of wearing slippers indoors sometimes extends to environments other than the home, something that seems to be taking informality too far. I am told that a rule had to be passed prohibiting slipper-wearing by MPs during sessions of the Czech Parliament (or maybe the Czechs are just pulling my leg)!


Hannah said...

Actually I find being obliged to put on old slippers that have been (as is obvious from their smell) worn by masses of assorted strangers before me absolutely disgusting :-)! Saying (as I do) 'No thanks I am happy to stay in just the socks' usually produces a torrent of 'oh no, you must, I insist's... Maybe that's why so many Czechs when visiting actually carry their own slippers?
As to the Parliament, I think it may well be true. Did you know that children always have to change to slippers in school, and did you not sometime glimpse under the desk of some very smartly dressed official a a pair of well-worn comfy floppies? (the last time I saw this was at the Notary's office: her high-heels were neatly placed underneath her coat-rack)

Kristin said...

Your blog never fails to bring me a good memory of the Czech Republic. The cleaning lady at the Gymnasium reprimanded me for wearing street shoes and then turned so apologetic when I mentioned I was a teacher. But I did not dress (or act!) professionally at the time, so it was understandable. You're living a dream over there and it's a great read.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I do wish more people would adopt the excellent custom of shoes-off at the door. I certainly do and I am glad you approve of it.

I dedicated an whole blog to this subject:

Shoes Off at the Door, Please


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