Croatian Papuce Obsession: Latest Photo Shows Snow No Obstacle

Total Croatia News

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© Dnevna doza prosječnog Dalmatinca
Croatian papuce obsession, snow no obstacle
Croatian papuce obsession, snow no obstacle

With most of Croatia having enjoyed a warm and sunny late February weekend, it’s easy to forget that snow still lingers in some places. Or, it certainly seemed to last week, when this baffling and funny photo became popular online. The image clearly shows that, whatever the weather, some people are reluctant to wear anything other than their Croatian papuce.

The photo was posted last week on the Dnevna doza prosječnog Dalmatinca Facebook page, where it became a big hit. Titled simply ‘Dalmatinske buce’, the photo so far got 3.7 thousand ‘likes’. Some 725 comments were left by those puzzled or amused by the strange combination of footwear for the setting.

Quite how to describe this bewildering concoction of unsuitable outdoor winter wear left TCN confused. Obsession with Croatian papuce comes as naturally to those who live in Croatia as exhaling after inhaling. But, it is a strange and alien beast to many from North America, Australia and western Europe.

Croatian papuce are essentially slippers which you are invited to wear when you enter a Croatian home. Every. Croatian. Home. It’s a simple rule. You cannot refuse. Don’t try and argue the case for keeping your shoes on – that would be extremely rude. Thought that today you’d get away with wearing that pair of socks with a hole in the toe? Wrong. You’re in Croatia now. The indelible embarrassment you are about to suffer is a necessary scar from which you will learn. There is no avoiding the Croatian papuce. Just put them on.

AnyConv.com__IKEA-TASJON-Kapcie-szary-L-XL-40-43.jpgCroatian papuce © IKEA

When you are offered Croatian papuce, if your host is kind enough to be speaking English with you, they may not introduce them to you as slippers. They may often be referred to as ‘house shoes’. That’s because, unlike the shoes you wore upon entering, Croatian papuce are usually never worn out of the house. The wearing of Croatian papuce ensures that any dirty stuff on the bottom of your shoes is not traipsed through your kind host’s home. And, they are lighter than your boots on the expensive carpet that your host would like to preserve. However alien and unnerving the process of placing Croatian papuce on your feet may seem – if something similar is not part of your culture – this is actually the part that is easy for anyone to understand and abide by. Go with it. You must. You don’t really have any choice. Unless you want to stay outside. You never know, you might even like it. Some Croatian papuce are actually rather nice (not that the wearing of Croatian papuce is at all about you).

130498081_452298736144809_2248280422156425007_ntsunami.jpgA relatively small number of Croatian papuce, ready to greet some lucky guest(s). Only two people live in this apartment. It’s like when ancient armies would march in single file to disguise their numbers – no burglar would dream of breaking into a home with this many tenants. Clever hallway papuce placement.

The Croatian papuce hallway introduction is delivered with a kind and warm heart because Croatians are generally very welcoming and great hosts. Nobody really knows if anything dangerous or life-threatening lies beyond the Croatian papuce hallway introduction should it be refused, because nobody has ever turned them down. Nobody living, anyway.

In order to fully prepare you for your first Croatian papuce hallway introduction, there are some things you should first know. Pay attention, because it gets a little more complicated from here and you may be left with more questions than answers about the snow-trekking Croatian papuce in the main photo if you don’t keep up.

118230889_244150673329763_5873596474669835167_n.jpgFlip-flops – they are NOT Croatian papuce

Not all papuče, or ‘house shoes’, are slippers. Some Croatian papuce are slippers. But, some are more like flip-flops. Except they are almost never the footwear westerners traditionally refer to as flip-flops. It is almost unheard of that, in the Croatian papuce hallway introduction, you would be asked to put between your toes into the strap of a traditional flip flop that someone else has previously worn. But, that’s more because traditional flip-flops are outside shoes. This isn’t about you, remember.

150427680_3725811134151163_7361092133462098063_n.jpgA more Birkenstock-type slip-on sandal could be considered a Croatian house shoe and offered to you. We say ‘offered’, but there’s no choice involved

The flip-flops you are likely to meet in the Croatian papuce hallway introduction are more like a modern hybrid of a flip-flop and a sandal. With these, there is no inter-toe entanglement. The pictured lady in the snow is wearing these kinds of toe-liberated papuce. In Dalmatia, where we might well guess the picture was taken, these kinds of Croatian papuce are often referred to as šlape. Google translate says šlape are slippers. Lies. They’re more like a sandal flip-flop hybrid. Their name is even relatable to flip flop – it’s the sound the heel-less shoe makes when worn.

The šlape worn by the lady in the snow scene are much loved in this region. Various items of clothing and footwear featuring three stripes are massively popular all over the Slavic world. Croatian papuce with a design bearing three stripes is a match made in heaven. Her reticence in removing them, despite the wintery conditions, is perhaps more understandable when you appreciate the untold joy this union of essential cultural items delivers.


Although šlape are a hybrid of flips flops and sandals, you are unlikely to be offered either of these ancestors at the Croatian papuce hallway introduction. Sandals are outdoor shoes and, besides, the buckle is too fiddly for them to be appropriate for the Croatian papuce hallway introduction. You’re supposed to easily slide into the transfer between outdoor shoe and Croatian papuce. It isn’t supposed to be the ordeal many undergo the first time. Once you’ve thrown away all your socks with holes, the mental anguish will leave completely and on the next visit, you’ll be slipping in and out of your Croatian papuce like an otter through the river flow.

sandals-462870_1280.jpgSandals with fiddly fastenings or buckles are NOT Croatian papuce. You’re supposed to glide gracefully between the footwear transition in Croatian hallways. these are outdoor shoes. Take them off!

There are other types of house shoe that you may encounter in Croatia. One is Crocs. These may be referred to as papuče, but they are not really Croatian papuce. These are more like šlape, and can be worn as an indoor shoe or as an outdoor shoe, which is what we see in the picture. You might be offered them at the Croatian papuce hallway introduction. Own it.

crocs-1483215_1920.jpgOh no! But, oh yes. You must.

The other type of Croatian papuce you may see exist on a sliding scale, somewhere between woolly sock and furry indoor boot. The further into the scale you travel from either of these established forms of footwear, the further into hybrid territory you are entering. Almost every form of footwear on this scale is worn exclusively by the ladies and you are unlikely to ever be offered them, certainly not if you are a man.

doorknob-371406_1920.jpgYou might as well start untying your shoelaces right about now. There are around 10 different words for shoelaces in Croatia, depending on which region you’re from

Whether the lady in the photograph is wearing underneath her šlape something that exists on this woolly sock-furry indoor boot scale depends on your perception and your knowledge of Croatian papuce. Could it really be said that she has ingeniously broken new grounds of winter-wear practicality by adding one set of Croatian papuce to another? Well, not only does the answer to that require a deep knowledge of Croatian papuce, but it also depends on the region you’re from.

To ensure the highest standards of investigative journalism are maintained at Total Croatia News, we asked Croatians from many different regions, who live in several countries, to try and explain this picture of a possible future papuče phenomenon. TCN likes to keep on top of the latest trends.

Screenshot_212.pngThank you Osijek

Screenshot_224.pngThank you island Brac

Screenshot_213.pngThank you Slavonian diaspora in Scandinavia

Screenshot_214.pngThank you Mihaljevac, Zagreb

Screenshot_223.pngThank you Frankopanska, Zagreb

So, after several consultations, TCN was actually none the wiser. We still couldn’t say for sure what we were looking at. 1) Standard Croatian papuce, or papuče with possible sock interloping, from Slavonians in Slavonia, Slavonians on Dalmatian islands and Slavonians in the diaspora 2) šlape, from Dalmatia and 3) two Purgers with different opinions – one who was unequivocal this was a sock and natikače combo (who would ever imagine someone from Zagreb believing they are ABSOLUTELY right?) Though brutal in their assessment of the validity of their countrymen’s opinions, the latter view from Zagreb was later confirmed by another Purger (a ‘Purger’ is someone traditionally from, and with deep roots to Zagreb). But, just as soon as this new Zagreb contributor seemed to have cleared everything up, they then proceeded to send a major curveball into TCN’s tireless journalistic pursuit for truth.


Are Croatian papuce a leftover from Ottoman invasion or a deeply-rooted pan-Slavic tradition?

Having narrowed down the options of just what the heck was being worn in the photo, we now faced the new dilemma of not knowing whether the Croatian papuce obsession is a leftover from the Ottomans or is a deeply routed pan-Slavic tradition. This caused considerable anguish. The entire history of Southeastern Europe’s love of slippers was at stake. A consultation was therefore required from the wider Slavic world. We turned to friends from Poland, a Belarussian from Russia who lives in Serbia and a Lithuanian.

Screenshot_218.pngThank you Lithuania (you’ll notice the word Slavic does not actually enter this discussion with a Lithuanian, because the friendship is valued)

POLEFINAL.pngThank you Polish friend number 1

Screenshot_217.pngThank you Belarussian friend in Serbia

Screenshot_215.pngThank you Polish friend number 2

There you have it! Croatians can breathe easily and revel in their papuče love forevermore. Your papuče obsession is in your Slavic DNA, it is not a remnant of Turkish occupation. Phew! We sincerely hope this explosive revelation makes up for us not entirely being able to explain what the snow-shuffling Dalmatian lady is actually wearing on her feet.



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