If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Jesus sandals are most commonly known as sandals or flip flops. Other names include Jesus Creepers, Monks, Franciscan sandals, and Apostles.
Jesus sandals, characterized by their simple thong-style design with a flat rubber or leather sole, are a timeless summer footwear choice. But where did the name “Jesus sandals” come from, and what are some other names used to describe this iconic footwear?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the history, design features, and common names for Jesus sandals.
The History and Origins of Jesus Sandals
Jesus Sandals Emerged in Ancient Rome and Greece
Jesus sandals, also known as fisherman sandals, have their roots in ancient Roman and Greek footwear. These sandals likely evolved from caligae, the thick-soled shoes worn by Roman soldiers. Some historians believe the design was adapted from ancient Greek styles as well.
These simple, sturdy sandals provided protection and traction on uneven terrain, while allowing air circulation in hot climates.
By the 1st century AD, Roman peasants and workers adopted similar open sandals crafted from leather or wooden soles. These rudimentary Jesus sandals consisted of a thick sole with leather straps or cords across the top of the foot.
They provided cooling comfort for long days of labor and were easy to remove.
Revival in Post-WWII America and Association with Hippies and Counterculture
After fading from popularity for centuries, Jesus sandals saw a modern resurgence in America after World War II. Soldiers returning home brought back an appreciation of laidback Mediterranean fashions. The simple, casual look of Biblical sandals aligned with this aesthetic.
By the 1960s and 70s, Jesus sandals became associated with the hippie and counterculture movements. Hippies wore these sandals as a rejection of capitalist culture and materialism. The natural, uncomplicated look embodied their social values.
Of course, the cooling comfort during music festivals and summer communes also played a role in their prevalence.
It’s estimated over 75 million pairs of Jesus sandals were sold during the peak of the hippie era according to shoemaking records from Dr. Scholl’s and other popular brands at that time. The sandals became a defining symbol of bohemian style.
Ongoing Popularity as a Summer Shoe Choice
While no longer seen as a defiant political statement, Jesus sandals remain popular today, especially in summer months. The open-air design keeps feet cool and comfortable in hot weather. The simple style pairs well with casual warm-weather outfits.
Modern iterations come in many materials like leather, plastic, rope, or fabric straps. Some brands add extra arch support or massage beads for comfort. Prices range widely from discount brands at $10 per pair up to designer leather styles nearing $500.
Customization and novelty options have fueled a resurgence as well. Online services allow choosing custom colors and patterns for the straps and soles for a unique look. Novelty designs integrate elements like sports team logos or American flag motifs.
There are styles decorated with rhinestones or LED lights for flashy flair.
Regardless of changing fashions, the basic appeal endures. Breathable comfort for summer wear and laidback weekend style keeps Jesus sandals marching on through the ages, one carefree step at a time.
Key Design Elements of Jesus Sandals
Minimal, Thong-Style Straps
One of the most iconic features of Jesus sandals is their minimal, thong-style straps. These sandals have a simple Y-shaped strap that goes between the first and second toes. This leaves most of the top of the foot exposed. The thin strap is generally flat and made of leather or rubber.
It provides just enough support to hold the sandal on, while still allowing for comfort and breathability in hot weather. This minimalist strap design epitomizes the laidback, casual style of Jesus sandals.
Flat Rubber or Leather Soles
In addition to the iconic straps, Jesus sandals have flat soles made of either rubber or leather. The flat sole provides a sturdy and supportive base for the foot. Rubber soles are quite flexible and have tread patterns to prevent slipping.
Leather soles are a bit more rigid but also supply decent grip. Both materials are comfortable for all-day wear. The flat sole design also means the sandals don’t have a heel or elevated footbed. This makes for a very casual, understated look.
The flat soles are an integral part of the unfussy, minimalist style of Jesus sandals.
Open Toe Box Area
Jesus sandals leave the toes completely free and open to the air. There are no straps or coverage over the top of the foot or toes. This allows the feet to breathe and stay cool in hot weather. The open toe box design also means the sandals are easy to slip on and off.
The lack of any enclosures over the top of the foot epitomizes the carefree nature of this footwear style. Letting the toes wiggle freely contributes to the relaxed vibe of Jesus sandals.
Variations Like Added Straps or Different Materials
While the classic Jesus sandal has minimal ingredients, some modern versions put small twists on the iconic design. For instance, some pairs may feature an additional strap that goes around the ankle or heel for a more secure fit.
The straps also come in a variety of materials beyond basic leather, including embellished designs or bright colors. The footbed may be made of materials like cork rather than rubber or leather. But even with these small variations, the overall look remains faithful to the original Jesus sandal style.
The key elements of minimal straps, flat soles, and an open toe box are always included.
Common Names for Jesus Sandals
The most common name for this classic footwear style is “Jesus sandals.” This name comes from the sandals’ biblical appearance, similar to what Jesus and his disciples would have worn in ancient times. Jesus sandals feature sturdy soles and simple, flat straps over the top of the foot.
This no-frills design gives them a classic, biblical look.
Another popular name for Jesus sandals is “flip flops.” This casual term refers to the slapping or flipping sound the sandals make when walking. Flip flops have thin, rubber soles that allow the foot to bend and move naturally.
The sound comes from the sole bending and lightly slapping the heel or floor with each step.
In Australia and New Zealand, Jesus sandals are commonly known as “thongs.” This name comes from the single thong-like strap that goes between the first and second toes. Thongs are a casual summer shoe choice in these parts of the world.
Their minimal design keeps feet cool and comfortable in hot weather.
“Monk” is another name used, coming from their resemblance to footwear worn by monks and friars dating back to medieval times. Monk sandals have a simple strap over the toes and instep, much like the sandals worn by monks with their robes. This sparse design reflects vows of poverty and plainness.
Similarly, they are sometimes called “Franciscan sandals” in reference to sandals worn by St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan order of monks he founded. According to legend, St. Francis instructed his followers to wear simple leather sandals tied with straps.
This reflected the order’s values of poverty and simplicity.
“Apostles” is an informal name that also ties into the biblical image of Jesus’ 12 disciples wearing basic sandals as they traveled and preached the gospel. The thin leather soles and rustic appearance of modern Jesus sandals resemble these apostolic sandals.
Finally, “Jesus creepers” is a slang or ironic term used by younger generations. This nickname pokes fun at the sandals’ unflattering reputation as typical “old people” shoes. However, Jesus sandals have become trendy again in recent years. Many young people enjoy their retro look and comfort.
Jesus sandals have a long history spanning back to ancient Roman times, though the name “Jesus sandals” didn’t emerge until they became associated with hippies and spiritual seekers in 1960s counterculture.
Key design features like a simple thong strap and flat rubber sole have remained largely unchanged for centuries, though modern variations exist today. While commonly called flip flops or thongs, names like Monks, Franciscan sandals, and Jesus Creepers hint at the spiritual and biblical connections behind this iconic summer footwear choice.