Tuesday, 25 September 2012

WeekX: Shoes off!

The shoe culture is a bit different in Sweden compared to England. The policy is to ALWAYS take your shoes off when you enter a Swedish home, but I was surprised to find that you even had to take your shoes off to enter the children's area at the central library in Malmö.

A few weeks ago I was at a party in Småland. Quite a few people were drunk on homemade booze, but they still managed to take their shoes off every time they had been out for a cigarette or some fresh air. It wouldn't have happened in England where it's normal to walk into a house with your shoes on. (Unless you have stepped in poo or mud.)

This picture is from a birthday party in England. I was the only who had taken my shoes off. They looked quite lonely in the hallway and people kept falling over them because ...

In general England is not very good at hallways. In Sweden, no matter the size of your flat or house there are almost always hangers for your coat, a shelf for your hat and a rack for your shoes.

However, someone I stayed with in England who worked in an office tried to be creative in his work environment, but only two of the ten or so people in the room felt free to leave their shoes off. (I wasn't one of them. That day I felt very English and left my boots on.)

PS. This week I'm having a break from Swenglish as I'm signing books at the Gothenburg Book Fair. More info here.


  1. I live in the UK and whilst I agree with you that it's a nit a uniform policy that shoes come off at the do, I have found that most people do take their shoes off and also prefer that their guests do the same. It's something I have always done both as a child growing up and as an adult in my own homes. My partner and I have just moved into a new house and we take off our shoes and wear slippers. We live in the country so it's taken for granted that shoes come off. Many people here bring slippers to change into. I have never understood why anyone would choose to wear shoes in the house.

  2. Good to hear about your personal shoe culture :=). I am aware that I am generalising a fair bit, but while shoes ALWAYS come off in Sweden, it's more acceptable to keep them on in England in my experience.

  3. You are entirely correct. Personally I always ask if I should take off my shoes when visiting. I have found that many English people are very uncomfortable in asking their guests to remove their shoes even though they prefer shoes to come off.

  4. You make a good point about our hallways being pretty rubbish! It's not something I've really consciously thought about before but so true!