Can YOU handle the JANDAL?

"No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service" is a familiar phrase that many Americans see hung on signs outside of grocery stores or at the local Seven-Eleven/Piggly Wiggly/Wawa (take your pick). Why is this "no shoes - no service" rule such a widely accepted paradigm? I seem to have grown up accepting the fact that the only time barefootedness is permitted is when Mom just washed the kitchen floor or while walking on the beach (Although I did go through a phase of social embarrassment when I wore oh-so-fashionable water shoes to avoid the crabs at Ocean City. Those pre-teen years were not my best times).

Here in New Zealand, it is perfectly normal to stroll the street with bare feet. I'm not sure if it is to enhance the idea of clean, green, 100% pure New Zealand or to reinforce the laid-back, relaxed kiwi lifestyle where hippy meets beach bum. Either way it is a societal norm, even during the dead winter in the largest city in the country.

But there comes a time when a kiwi may not feel so liberated and needs slightly more reinforcement, this is when we meet "The Jandal."

Some say jandals gained popularity in NZ in the 1950s from Japanese influence. The word itself supposedly originated from the term "Japanese sandal." But no matter where it came from and what it means (flip-flop, thong, sandal, etc.), it is a staple of the NZ wardrobe in all climates

Jandals can also refer to any type of breezy footwear. Whether it be the durable Rainbow, the rubber Havianna, the rugged Chaco, the more modest, but still breezy with heaps of conveniently placed holes: the Croc, or the Birkenstock (Disclaimer: even while worn with tube socks by the most fashion savvy tourists, it is still considered a jandal).

So if I have not made it clear already, kiwis love their jandals and they even celebrate National Jandal Day on December 4th to support surf lifeguards throughout both islands.

If you take away anything from this post, please remember that you should never enter New Zealand without packing your jandals. Also, do not be be alarmed if you hear AUT International students implementing the word incorrectly. For example: "That's so jandalous!" or "Mmmm... Jandalicious!"

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  1. Check out the handle the jandal competition at a DIY music video competition were the winner wins a Golden jandal..Great.