Adopt this Turkish habit ASAP
Like many other Asian cultures, Turkish homes are shoe free zones. Not only do they not walk around their homes in their shoes, but they physically step out of their shoes effortlessly while stepping into their homes. My first few times visiting Turkey, I was so clumsy trying to quickly and gracefully take off my shoes upon arriving at a home. It took me some practice, but I think I have now mastered the house entrance and exit.
From the surface it looks like a simple habit, but there are also little details within the habit that are interesting. First, when walking into a home, some Turkish believe they should first step the right foot into the home. The belief that the right is good and the left is sinister extends to other aspects of life as well. When I first had my son, my Mother in Law came from Turkey to stay with us for a few months. One day, I noticed she would fuss about putting on my son’s shoes. I later found out that she insisted on placing the right shoe on first due to the “start on the right side” myth.
Turkish hospitality is very strong throughout the culture and this extends to the shoe free home habit. When visiting someone and entering their home, they will offer you slippers, house shoes or my husband’s Aunt offers crocks. Not only is it a warm gesture, but there is also a Turkish myth concerning walking barefoot. Many Turkish people believe that walking barefoot for a woman can cause infertility or other reproductive system illnesses. For some, it is a strong belief and they are very uncomfortable to see a woman walking barefoot.
The last detail involves the placement of your shoes. It seems like magic, because I never catch when the homeowner performs this task, but each time and at many different homes when I went to leave, to my surprise, my shoes were lined up perfectly facing the opposite direction from which I took them off. This, of course, makes putting on your shoes easier, but it also shows the intense level of concern, detail and hospitality of the Turkish culture
I encourage everyone to become a shoe free home. To motivate you to adopt this habit I have some quick facts. Research has shown 421,000 units of bacteria are on the outside of a shoe. Just think about where you walked during the day…park, public restroom? For me, I am walking the halls of a hospital. Your shoes are not only picking up germs but also pesticides and harmful chemicals. Therefore, taking off your shoes reduces your exposure to toxins and germs, and, quite frankly, it just keeps your house cleaner. Take the shoe free home challenge and adopt this Turkish habit today.