keskiviikko 11. toukokuuta 2011

BeFriending Finland #2: Shoes

Dear Non-Finns. I know you’re out there and I know you’re just dying to come to Finland, right? This series of blog posts is dedicated to you. With BeFriending Finland I try to familiarize you with the peculiarities of Finnish human nature and culture. Last time we talked about personal space. Today, naturally, we talk about shoes.

I’m not gonna talk about how some Finns wear sandals with socks, even if it is, in my opinion, absolutely horrendous. Instead I want to introduce you a habit that we have: When we enter a home, we take our shoes off. I know, it might sound pretty gross to you, but that’s what we do.

When you get pass the personal space issue, break the ice and become a friend with a Finn, inevitably you will be invited to visit. So what to do? When you enter the home you will find yourself in a space that looks somewhat like the one in this picture.

Entryway, that is. There’s likely to be hell of a lot of shoes there. Just leave yours amongst them and enter the home with your stocking feet (“sukkasillaan” in Finnish) or if it happens to be one of the warm months of the year, with your bare feet. Tadah!

This applies to all homes. I have not found a single home in Finland where people would keep their shoes on. Therefore it is likely that if you invite a Finn to your home he might try to take his shoes off. As we are brought up thinking that keeping ones shoes on inside a home is not only impolite but also messy, we tend to forget that in other cultures it can be seen the other way around.

But which way do YOU see it?

And keep coming back. Up next: Please and what?!

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