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No shoes, please!

In a recent post, I said that I’ll share some of my childhood stories. See here. Today’s post is about a cultural practice that we brought from Guyana to the U.S. We take off our shoes before entering our home. We never asked our parents why we had to take off our shoes, we just did it. I suppose the main reason is for cleanliness. Think of all the dirt and yucky stuff our shoes touch daily – it is best to leave all those germs outside.

Some floor activities in Guyana:

  1. Some families sat on the floor to eat their daily meals (not so common nowadays)
  2. The women often sat on the floor to “pick rice” – removing all the black rice or pieces of foreign objects that came with the rice.
  3. Some families sat on the floor to cut their vegetables.
  4. Everyone sat on the floor for all Hindu and Muslim ceremonies.
  5. Guests also sat on the floor to eat the meal that was served after the religious ceremony.
  6. Many babies and young children slept on the floor during the day, so moms can keep an eye on them while they did their chores.
  7. The floor converted to a bed when guests stayed over.

We still practice some of the activities listed above here in the U.S.

I also want to share with you that worshipers take off their shoes at all mandirs and mosques. No exception.

Here at home, I wear a pair of fluffy slippers 🙂  When I visit someone’s home, I take off my shoes, unless the host asks me to keep them on.

Here is a picture of the shoe rack in our garage (very messy). I keep all my “nice” shoes in boxes in my bedroom.

shoe rack

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14 thoughts on “No shoes, please!

  1. Hi Elaine,
    A close friend has this same custom of requiring shoes to be taken off in her house. It amazed me at how many people got upset with her when they were asked to take their shoes off before entering her home. Several people said they would not visit again because of it. Maybe they were shy about their unkempt feet.

  2. I also leave my outdoor/walking shoes by the door and either pad about in bare feet if it is hot or slip into my indoor shoes – or at this time of year my woolly socks. If I am wearing my dress shoes however I will keep them on when I come home – though I prefer ballet flats for indoors. Less a cultural thing than a comfort thing in my case 🙂

  3. Although I don’t take off my shoes as soon as I enter the house, I do change into slippers or flip flops. Great to hear from you, Elaine. I hope you and your family are well. Have a great week!

    • Jill, when my fluffy slippers get old, I wear those slippers with the net material on top. I usually buy them at the Dollar store in NY for about $3.
      My family is well. It’s a hectic time for me at work as I work toward deadlines and closing off the year. Hope all is well with you and the writing. Have a happy week!

  4. Thanks for sharing a bit of your cultural heritage, Elaine. We leave some footwear by the door, necessary to take the dog out. We wipe her feet before entering and we leave those shoes at the door. The shoes I wear to work, make it to the bedroom, where I change into some sort of slipper.

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