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The importance of home slippers in Russia

by Oxana Novikova

One of the most challenging parts of adapting to life in a foreign country is learning to understand and adapt to the cultural differences between your home country and the country you are living in. Speaking of living in a Russian home or having guests to your home, домАшние тАпочки (tApochki - home slippers) are one of those essential Russian cultural norms.
You don’t have to live in Russia very long before you realize that you immediately check your dirty shoes at the doorway and look for your slippers to wear throughout the house. And if you have guests, it is always good to keep extra pairs of tapochki for them to wear when they come to your place. Walking around in socks is not acceptable especially if they are not mended:) When at one`s Russian home you are most likely to be offered a pair of slippers, or you can always bring your own pair of slippers, if you want. At home parties, some women may bring an extra pair of heels or shoes for inside use.
The reason for that is quite simple. In many Russian apartments, there are usually rugs (коврЫ - kavrY ), on the floors and the walls. Some may be quite nice but often they are not easy to vacuumclean. Besides, This tradition has been going on for centuries, and hosts usually offer tapochki (slippers) to their guests. 
I think that slippers mean a lot to Russians. We have even a proverb about slippers (Кто рАньше встал - тогО и тАпки - Kto rAn`shye vstal - tavO y tApki - literally, One gets the slippers who got up earlier). Even the monument to the ordinary slippers was set up in a Russian town Tomsk in 2006. Anybody can try them on.
Oleg Kislitskiy, the sculptor, could not decide on the design of the slippers — with pompons, with open toes, or wool ones. In the end, he decided to make a copy of his own slippers that he wears at home. The bronze slippers look truly worn, making the monument more realistic. Now you understand how important the slippers are to Russians.

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