Big klompen things that people probably at one time actually wore.

The wooden shoe is a hallmark of Dutch Culture, and here in Holland we have our own Wooden Shoe Factory. Yee Haw.

The wooden shoe is something that was worn in swampy areas of Europe in the Middle Ages because they were substantially more waterproof than many materials available at the time. (The French word for them, "sabot," would eventually enter English as part of "sabotage.") They were particularly useful in Holland/the Netherlands and surrounding areas because the ground tended to be soggy and there was a lot of good wood (particularly willow and poplar) that shoes could be made of. Hence, they became associated with the Dutch.

Originally they were a wooden sole with straps (rather like Japanese clogs, which are also made of wood) but soon gained a covering of the front of the foot also and a slightly upturned toe. Different occupations had different designs (fishermen's wooden shoes had a point on the toe to hold nets; gardeners' wooden shoes had flatter soles to tamp down ground with), and different areas had their own traditions of shoe style and decoration. Broken shoes could be used for firewood.

Modern materials have made wooden shoes mostly a historical and tourist item, but they are still worn by some for various reasons:

  • Farmers and others working in areas where the ground may have sharp objects around wear them for foot protection -- not much can pierce a wooden shoe!
  • Wooden shoes absorb heat well and are standard for people working around furnaces and high heat.
  • Apparently they don't make your feet sweat as much as boots do.
Dutch proverbs still refer to the shoes (called "klomp") -- one advises a person to be careful by saying "You shouldn't walk on ice wearing wooden shoes," and two people who get along well are described as "wearing clogs made from the same willow tree."


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