Shoes are important things, and not just for practical reasons. There are many traditions around the world involving them. From perhaps the best-known tradition of tying shoes to newlyweds’ cars to the lesser-known red shoe toss, read on for some fun facts about traditions around the world – and the role that footwear plays in those places.
Japanese samurai warriors wore shoes made from bear fur, believing that the animal’s strength would transfer to whoever wore the shoes.
An old American Indian custom is to poke holes in the tops of infant’s shoes to let any bad spirits escape.
A Greek custom is to burn old shoes during the Christmas season; this prevents carrying misfortune into the new year.
Of course, tying shoes to the newlyweds’ car is a tradition that is still practiced today. It has evolved from a Tudor tradition where wedding guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom as they were leaving the church; it was considered good luck if they or their carriage was hit.
In Europe shoes were seen as good luck charms in buildings; often they were deliberately hidden in walls or chimneys.
In Islamic countries removal of shoes before entering a mosque is required; that way the unclean world is not brought in to holy ground.
When there is a death in the family, Jewish tradition states walking into the woods and throwing away the deceased relative’s shoes. Many today still believe the shoes must be destroyed or thrown out, rather than given to another person.
An old English custom says that if you do not give shoes to a poor person at least once in your life, you will be forced to walk barefoot in the next world. Therefore giving shoes to the poor at Christmas is a modern-day tradition.
It was a Chinese custom to toss the bride’s red shoe on the roof of the house as a sign of love and harmony.
When a king does, the Ashanti people of West Africa paint their sandals black.
If you are attending a wedding soon, be sure to practice your shoe-throwing skills!