Spain | A look into its culture

The cultures of Spain are European cultures based on a variety of historical influences, primarily that of Ancient Rome, pre-Roman Celtic, Iberian culture, Phoenicians and the Moors. The subsequent course of Spanish history added other elements to the country’s culture and traditions.

The apex of Spain’s social pyramid is occupied by the royal family, followed by the titled nobility and aristocratic families. In today’s modern and democratic Spain, the circles around the royal family, titled nobility, and old aristocrats are ever widened by individuals who are endowed with social standing by virtue of achievements in business, public life, or cultural activity.

The institution of Marriage

Spaniards today marry for mutual attraction and shun the idea of arranged marriages. Class consciousness and material self-interest, however, lead people to socialize and marry largely within their own social classes or to aim for a match with a spouse who is better off.

Traditionally, access to property was an important concern with well-being often counting for more than love. But today marriage is considered a partnership, although different input is expected of the two sexes, and the rearing of a family is regarded as central to it.

Remarriage for widowed individuals beyond childbearing age was traditionally greeted with community ribaldry, since a sexual relationship was being entered into without the end of family-building. These views and customs are becoming archaic. Divorce is now permitted; liaisons outside of marriage are increasingly common and accepted; and the economics of marriage for most people are freed from the ties to landed property that obtained when Spain was more heavily rural and agrarian.

Most Spaniards live in nuclear-family households of parents and unmarried children, and this is widely held as ideal. A Spanish saying goes “casado casa quiere ” (“a married person wants a house”). Older couples or unmarried adults tend to live on their own.

Two kinds of household formations produce stem families.

Where estates are impartible, the married heir lives and raises his children on the parental estate and expects his heir to do likewise.

Where estates are divided, an adult heir may nonetheless stay on with his or her parents on their house site. This is often the youngest child, who agrees to stay on in the aging parents’ household.

The acknowledged strains between co-resident married couples suggest that indeed casado casa quiere, and demographers find the stem-family régime to be waning. This does not mean that the philosophy of estate impartibility is any weaker, however, in areas where it is traditional.

Culture of Kinship

All Spaniards reckon kinship in effectively the same way: bilaterally and using an Eskimo-type terminology—the same as most Europeans and Americans. Kinship relations beyond the household are nonetheless supremely important in social life.

Family and relatives are defined broadly (without genealogical limits) and inclusively (embracing in-laws as well as blood relatives) to create a large pool of relations beyond the limits of any single household or locality.

Within this pool, people socialize as much by choice as by obligation. Although this field of relations is at best loosely structured and relations between kinsmen from different households must be viewed as voluntary, kinship networks are extraordinarily important in Spaniards’ lives and serve as vital connectors in many realms, influencing such choices as those of residence, occupation, migration, and even marriage. Despite diminishing family size, the Spanish family as an instituted set of relationships remains extremely strong.

Japan and its decreasing divorce rates

Japanese society is portrayed as classless or one with a class structure in which very tiny elite groups and underclasses bracket an enormous number of middle-class people.

However, there are significant social differences among rural and urban residents, including family composition, educational attainment, and labor force participation. Within the urban population, social differentiation exists between the white-collar, salaried “new middle class,” blue-collar industrial workers, and the self-employed petty entrepreneurial classes of shopkeepers and artisans.

Marriage and Family Life

Marriage is generally based on mutual attraction between individuals i.e. a “love marriage”. Some people still rely on arranged marriage in which a go-between negotiated a match in a process that might give parental opinions more weight than those of the prospective bride and groom.

Looking at the history of the Japanese family over the last century or so, Japan is one of the few countries that’s gone through industrialization and had the rate of divorce drop.

In traditional Japanese families, families would send back a bride or an adopted son-in-law if they didn’t feel that the marriage was working or that the person wasn’t able to contribute to the household. Today that traditional family system is transformed into the contemporary nuclear family as more and more marriages are based on free choice because of which the divorce rate went down a great deal. In most countries going through urbanization and industrialization, it’s quite the opposite.

Weddings are almost always held in hotels or wedding halls, with a lavish banquet for several dozen guests. The ceremonies blend elements from Shintō marriage rituals and stylized adaptations of Christian weddings. Weddings are elaborately staged, and the bride and groom typically go through several changes of costume.

Most urban families consist of parents and their children while slightly extended families have an elderly parent living with a married couple and their children.

The family in Japan is called “kazoku” in Japanese. The Japanese family is based on the line of descent and adoption. Ancestors and offspring are linked together by an idea of family genealogy, or keizu, which does not mean relationships based on mere blood inheritance and succession, but rather a bond of relationship inherent in the maintenance and continuance of the family as an institution.

The most usual living arrangement in Japan today is the nuclear family—more than 60 percent of the households are of this type, and the number has increased steadily throughout this century. Another 16 percent are single-person households.

Just over 20 percent of households are extended, most of which are in rural areas. This type of household, known traditionally as the ie, is thought today to have been typical of living arrangements in Japan until well into this century, although in reality there was always considerable regional and class variation in connection with household composition. The ie usually was composed of a three-generation household of grandparents, parents, and children. 

Inheritance

The primary imperative of the family as a social institution was to survive across the generations. In traditional agrarian life, land was almost never divided, because to do so might imperil the next generation’s ability to survive. So in most cases, inheritance was by a single child, usually the eldest son. In the case of an extremely prosperous family, they might be able to establish other children in newly independent family lines, which would remain forever subservient to the original line.

The particular social custom called “adopted sons-in-law” was there so that a family that had daughters, but no sons, might adopt a young man and have him marry their daughter, and when the adoption and marriage was completed, he would take on the family name of his wife’s family, and for all intents and purposes would be considered the heir to that family. So it’s not inheritance through the female, but still inheritance through the male, but the male’s role is created socially through the process of adoption.

Kinship

Various kinds of fictive kinship modeled on patterns of adoption and relationships between family branches have been used to sustain other kinds of social relationships. Patron-client relationships sometimes are referred to as parent-child ties, and may involve elaborate formal rituals of bonding. Traditional artistic life is structured around master-apprentice relationships that involve adoption and the establishment of lineages.

The kinship system before World War II was based on upper-class family patterns established during the late Tokugawa period. Later the government put in place legal norms and standards that defined an ideal family structure. It established clear rules about membership, inheritance patterns, and the authority of the household head over assets and marriages. This legal structure was radically altered after World War II, by reducing patriarchal authority, increasing the legal rights of women, and requiring that estates be shared among children and widows.

Patterns of traditional kinship still shape the social conventions of family life.

The traditional family system was organized around a multigenerational household with a single central authority: the male household head. Inheritance of a family’s estate and succession to a family’s occupation, social position, and obligations devolved to a single child. In terms of social participation, the household was considered as a single unit rather than the sum of its members.

The kinship system is bilateral, and includes relatives connected to both husband and wife. Cognates and affines are addressed by the same terms but horizontal ties are usually stressed over vertical ties. 

Russia | Understanding opennes of its culture

The derivation of name ‘Russia’ is often argued upon. While some say “Rus” is derived from the name of a tribe , others say it is derived from an ancient name for the Volga River.

Relations and Marriage

Romantic love is considered the only acceptable motivation for marriage, and there is a long tradition in literature, poetry, and song of idealizing lovers’ passion. Contemporary practices highlight more pragmatic and cynical aspects of marital relationships, such as improving one’s economic status or housing prospects.

Traditionally it was mainly an economic contract between the heads of two households, reinforced by the payment of the wedding costs by the groom’s household and the provision of a substantial dowry by the mother of the bride.

In the past, both patrilocal and matrilocal marriage were practiced but today the former is preferred and more frequent. In matrilocal marriages, parents without sons adopted a son-in-law under a contract that stipulated that he support them for the remainder of their lives and give them a decent burial.

Although marriages today are individual commitments, they are often associated with obligations to older female relatives. In Kemerovo, for example, families can gain prized housing rights by means of a co-resident grandmother, real or adopted, who is thus protected and in turn helps with child care and household tasks.

In today’s generations, people frequently meet partners at school, university, or at work, although discotheques and clubs in the cities have become popular meeting places. Premarital sex and single parenthood have always been common but marriage continues to be a major socio-religious act. Since premarital sex is generally accepted, and marriages arising from unplanned pregnancies are not uncommon.

Since the 1930s, 23 years has been the average age of marriage. 97 percent of adults marry by age forty, and most before age thirty. Approximately one-half of all marriages end in divorce wherein economic hardship and alcohol abuse are the contributing factors.

Ethnic intermarriage is fairly common in Soviet, and most people have at least one ancestor of a different nationality.

Wedding Ceremonies

  • Paying the ransom: When groom arrives at the bride’s home, he must pay a ransom for the bride
  • Traditional ceremony: takes place in a church and is divided into two parts: the Betrothal and the Crowning. The service traditionally takes place in the morning, after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, during which the wedding rings were blessed by being placed on the Holy Table.
  • Civil ceremony: takes place at the department of public services known as ZAGS where the couple is greeted by family members with bread and salt
  • Tour of the city: newlyweds and their witnesses travel around the city in a limousine
  • Reception:
    • The first toast is made to the newlyweds and after the first shot, the guests begin to shout Gorko, Gorko, Gorko,…. Gorko means “bitter”
    • At this point the couple must kiss for a long time to take out the bitter taste of the vodka
    • The second toast is made to the parents
    • The new couple dances the first dance of the night
    • The guests dance, sing, play games and make toasts

Family

An extended family living with the husband’s family characterized peasant life in the past. Today, the size and structure of the household unit is more flexible, although patriarchal control over the labor and behavior of the household is usual across social classes.

Nuclear family has become the most important domestic unit and most married couples want an apartment of their own, away from their parents. But housing shortage and high cost of new housing have made this a challenge, and families are often forced to live in apartments holding three generations.

Many couples with children live with a widowed parent of one spouse who provides child care and food preparation. A grandparent’s monthly pension may contribute significantly to the family budget.

Inheritance

Before the revolution, property was divided among all the living sons but for most families today all children have the legal title to their parents’ or grandparents’ property. This requires officially registering of the children as residents of those places before the death of the title holder. Otherwise, the title can revert to the government.

Kin Groups

Kinship is reckoned bilaterally, although usually stressed the paternal. Until the mid-19th century, kin terms for over sixty specific relations were in common use because even across distances, close relations are maintained. But lack of geographic mobility, support in hard times, and regular visits has caused this to cease.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Russian kinship terminology was defined by the exogamic units set by churchly canon: four “links” for consanguinai kin, two for affinal; only the archaic term dyadina (father’s brother’s wife, mother’s brother’s wife) extended further.

No distinction is made among consanguinal kin between male and female lines of descent; cousin terms derive from sibling terms; gender suffixes distinguish the sexes among the consanguinai kin of ascending generations and among affinal kin (except daughter’s husband and son’s wife); and the terms for daughter’s husband and sister’s husband are merged.

To this day on the collective farms, and to a lesser extent in the cities, various joint household budgets persist. Christenings, reverence of icons, and parental blessings of various kinds strengthen human relations.

 

Sri Lanka and its Sinhalese culture

Sinhalese societies in Sri Lanka are constructed on several hierarchies which include the party-political, religious (Buddhist and deity worship), caste, bureaucratic-administrative, professional (educational, medical) and the military.

Family

The most important social unit is the nuclear family which includes husband, wife, and unmarried children. Relatives of both wife and husband form an important social network that supports the nuclear family and encompasses the majority of its important social relations.

In Sri Lanka, individual households are identified by cooking practices, so that, even within a larger house, a wife will cook for her husband and children independently from others who may live within the structure, perhaps sharing the same kitchen.

Although women have a great deal of power within a family, ultimate authority belongs to the oldest male member of a household, whether that is the father, husband, brother, or son.

While overall there is a preference for sons, Sri Lankans express a preference that their first child be a girl, who they believe will help care for and be a disciplining influence on younger siblings.

Marriage: The institution

Marriages in Sri Lanka are monogamous although unions between one man and more than one woman (polygyny) are neither illegal nor unknown. On the other hand, unions involving one woman and more than one man (polyandry) are also legal and possible.

Although some castes their emphasis on in-group marriage e.g. Karava caste, some arranged marriages also take place between men and women from different castes.

Choosing a marriage partner is a very intricate affair and is often based on astrological readings of horoscopes, compatibility checks, wealth and status considerations, personalities of the two people involved, and parental control over dowry and other assets that may pass on to the children.  Hence the decisions on children’s marriage are often determined by factors other than the love exhibited between the man and woman to each other.

Wedding Ceremony

  • The groom and his relatives assemble on the right of the Poruwa and the bride’s family gathers at the left.
  • The bride and groom enter the Poruwa leading with the right foot first.
  • They greet each other with palms held together in the traditional manner.
  • The ceremony officiant then presents betel leaves to the couple which they accept and hand back to him to be placed on the Poruwa.
  • The bride’s father places the right hand of the bride on that of the groom as a symbolic gesture of handing over the bride to the groom.
  • The groom’s brother hands over a tray with seven sheaves of betel leaves with a coin placed in each.
  • The groom holds the tray while the bride takes one leaf at a time and drops it on the Poruwa. The groom then repeats this process.
  • The groom’s brother hands a gold necklace to the groom who in turn places it on the bride’s neck.
  • The maternal uncle enters the Poruwa and ties the small fingers of the bride and groom with a single gold thread (to symbolize unity) and then pours water over the fingers.
  • Six girls will then bless the marriage with a traditional chant (Jayamangala Gatha).
  • The groom presents to his bride a white cloth which in turn is presented to the bride’s mother. This is an expression of the groom’s gratitude to his mother-in-law.
  • The bride’s mother will then present a plate of milk rice specially cooked for the occasion to the bride who feeds a piece to the groom The groom then feeds the bride.
  • As the newly married couple steps down from the Poruwa, the groom’s family member breaks a fresh coconut in two.

Kinship

The kinship systems of Sri Lanka indicates that the most acceptable person for a young man to marry is the daughter of his father’s sister. The most suitable partner for a young woman is the son of her mother’s brother and parallel cousins (the son of the father’s brother or the daughter of the mother’s sister) tend to be improper marriage partners.

There is a close and special relationship between children and their aunts or uncles, who may become their fathers- or mothers-in-law. Special kinship terminology exists in both Tamil and Sinhalese for relatives in preferred or prohibited marriage categories.

In many villages, people spend their entire childhood with a clear knowledge of their future marriage plans and in close proximity to their future spouses. The system of cross-cousin marriage is ideally suited to maintaining the closed ritual purity of an extended kinship group and retaining control over property within a small circle of relatives.

Kinship is acquired through two means i.e. birth and marriage.  One is again born into a given sibling and extended kin group.  Marriage allows new interconnections with hitherto unrelated families even though some marriages take place between already related families also.

The largest kin group is the “microcaste” (called “our caste people” in Tamil), a section of a larger caste category within which people recognize common descent and a shared status. The microcaste is often distributed among several hamlets or wards in adjoining villages.

In sharp contrast to south Indian Tamil culture, descent is fully bilateral, save in the eastern coastal regions, where matrilineal descent is common.

Bangladeshis & Bengalis | Culture, Society and more

“Bangladesh” is a combination of the Bengali words, Bangla and Desh, meaning the country or land where the Bangla language is spoken.

The class system is similar to a caste structure. The ashraf is a small upper-class of old-money descendants of early Muslim officials and merchants whose roots are in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iran. Some ashraf families trace their lineage to the Prophet Mohammed. The rest of the population is atraf.

In rural areas, this classification is linked to the amount of land owned, occupation and education.

In urban areas, a great majority of people are laborers; the middle class is of small businessmen and midlevel office workers, and above this is an emerging entrepreneurial group and upper-level service workers.

One of the most obvious symbols of class status is dress. The lungi is worn by most men, except those who consider themselves to have high socioeconomic status and done pants and shirt or loose white cotton pajama pants with a long white shirt. White dress among men symbolizes an occupation that does not require physical labor.

The society is patriarchal in nearly every area of life, although some women have achieved significant positions of political power at the national level. For ordinary women, education is stressed less than it is for men whose authority is reserved to woman’s father, older brother, and husband.

Family and kinship are the core of social life in Bangladesh.

Family

A family group residing in a bari functions as the basic unit of economic endeavor, landholding, and social identity. A barhi is composed of a husband and wife, their unmarried children, and their adult sons with their wives and children. Grandparents also may be present, as well as patrilineally-related brothers, cousins, nieces, and nephews. A bari might consist of one or more functional households, depending on the circumstances of family relationship.

A barhi in rural areas is composed of three or four houses which face each other to form a square courtyard in which common tasks are done. Food supplies often are shared, and young couples must contribute their earnings to the household head. Cooking, however, often is done within the constituent nuclear family units.

In the eyes of rural people, the chula defined the effective household which is an extended family exploiting jointly held property and being fed from a jointly operated kitchen.  Married sons generally live in their parents’ household during the father’s lifetime.

Marriage

Marriage is almost always an arranged affair. Men marry typically around an age of 25 but women marry between 15-20; thus the husband is usually at least ten years older than the wife. Muslims allow polygynous marriage, but its occurrence is rare and is dependent on a man’s ability to support multiple households.

A parent who decides that a child is ready to marry may contact agencies, go-betweens, relatives, and friends to find an appropriate mate with an equal match in terms of family economic status, educational background, and piousness. Later, an arrangement between two families may be sealed with an agreement on a dowry and the types of gifts to be made to the groom.

Divorce is a source of social stigma and can be most difficult for the woman, who must return to her parent’s household.

Wedding Ceremony

The following 8 rituals take place in a Bangladeshi wedding:

  1. Arranging the wedding:  arranged by Ghotoks (matchmakers), who are generally friends or relatives of the couple, or sometimes just professional
  2. “Paka-dekha” or “patri-patro”: formal consent given by the family elders from both sides
  3. Turmeric ceremony: the paste is prepared by five married women called ‘Eyo-stree’ and is applied to the bride’s skin by her friends
  4. Main Wedding ceremony: Saat paak: bride encircles the groom seven times, as he remains seated on the ‘piri’ while covering her face with betel leaves. Followed by Shubhodrishti: when the bride finally removes the leaves from her face and their eyes meet. Ritual is accompanied by ululation and blowing of conch shells.
  5. Bou Bhaat: bride serves Rice with Ghee to all her in-laws at lunch  at her new home
  6. Phul Shojja: bride wears a lot of floral ornaments presented by the bride’s family
  7. Oshto Mongola: 8 days after marriage, the couple visits the bride’s house and spends three nights there
  8. Shubhochuni Satyanarayan Puja: On the 8th day of marriage, the newly wed couple in their wedding attires are blessed by the purohit and prayers are offered to bless the couple with a happy family

Inheritance

Islamic inheritance rules specify that a daughter should receive one-half the share of a son; but this practice is rarely followed. A widow is supposed to receive a share of her husband’s property, but this too is rare. Sons, however, are custom-bound to care for their mothers, who retain significant power over the rest of the household.

Kin Groups

The patrilineal descent principle is most important and the lineage is very often localized within a geographic neighborhood. Lineage members can be called on in times of financial crisis, particularly when support is needed to settle local disputes. Lineages do not meet regularly or control group resources.

Arab World | Society and its intricasies

Author's Note:
Understanding Arab society, their views, relations and basis of kinship

The term Arab generally refers to those persons who speak Arabic as their native tongue. A semitic people, there are estimated to be over 300 million people living in the Arab world.

An Arab world view is based on 6 concepts :

  • Atomism

Arabs tend to see the world and events as isolated incidents, snapshots, and particular moments in time. This is a key psychological feature of Arab culture. Westerners look for unifying concepts whereas Arabs focus on parts, rather than on the whole. It also means the Western concept of cause and effect is rarely accepted by Arabs who may not necessarily see a unifying link between events. They do, however, maintain a long-term memory over actions and events. It is important to point out that it is memory, not necessarily history that is important.

  • Deep Belief in God

Arabs usually believe that many, if not all, things in life are controlled by the will of God (fate) rather than by human beings. What might appear as fatalism initially is more deeply a belief in God’s power, sovereignty, active participation in the life of the believer, and authority over all things (business transactions, relationships, world events, etc.).

  • Wish v/s reality

Arabs, express emotion in a forceful, animated and exaggerated fashion. Their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for tradition (especially Islamic tradition, since Islam is the one area free of Western identification and influence). Desiring democracy and modernization immediately is a good example of what a Westerner might view as an Arabs “wish vs. reality.”

  • Justice and Equality

Arabs value justice and equality more than anything else.

  • Paranoia

Arabs may seem to be paranoid by Western standards. Suspicion of US intent in their land and a cautious approach to American forces are a primary example. Some Arabs view all Westerners as agents of the government that may be “spies.” Especially in the ethnically diverse areas, mistrust runs deep amongst these various groups.

  • Family over self

Arabic communities are tight-knit groups made up of even tighter family groups and most often, apart of tribes.


Arabs are a proud and sensitive people whose culture is mainly derived from three key factors: family, language, and religion. No adequate understanding of Arab culture is possible without first examining these three major elements and the pervading impact they have had on their culture. To begin to understand the Arabs, one must first understand the Arabic family since it has been regarded as the basis of the Arab social structure. Thus the first major factor overshadowing all other societal demands of an Arab is that of family and kin. The kin characteristic includes a set of group dynamics that are built around the family. Any discussion of Arab culture must also include their dominant cultural concerns, such as continuation of the close knit family.

Traditionally Arab Sociologists and religious legislators have stressed on the importance of the family unit as the basic social institution of society. The structure of the Arabic family is much more rigid and highly emphasized in comparison to the West. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members.

Parents are greatly respected in the Islamic tradition. In Arab culture, parents are responsible for children well into those children’s adult lives, and children reciprocate by taking responsibility for the care of their aging parents—responsibilities that Arabs generally take on with great pride.

In the traditional Arab family, the father represents the authority figure (patriarchal tradition), and in return he shoulders the major responsibilities towards his family members. The wife joins the kin group of her husband (patrilocal kin), while the children take up the father’s family name (patrilineal descent). In that capacity, the father is assigned the role of the bread-winner or provider for his family. This role puts him at the top of the pyramidal structure of his family. Also this role carries with it unquestioning compliance with his instructions as well as respect from all family members. The mother is assigned the role of the housewife, and in that capacity, she is closer to the children and actually exercises power over them, though sometimes she may use the father to threaten them. Some scholars may interpret that as a matriarchal system alongside the patriarchal system in the Arab family. However, it is believed that this matriarchal system supports the existing patriarchy, as it solidifies the pyramidal structure of the family.

In Arabic families, younger fathers expected to provide for and support the other family members, while mother are to care for the children and the household. Then, once the children are grown, and the parents are aged, it is the children’s responsibility to care for their parents – even if it’s at the children’s own expense.

The structure of the Arabic family is composed of four types of family units. The first and most simple structure is the nuclear unit, which consists of the father, mother, and offspring. This type of family unit is the least significant in the culture of the Arab world and is used to specify the actual residence of a family or the group of people who live under the same roof most of the time. The second familial unit is the the extended family or the joint family. It consists of father, mother, unwed children, as well as wedded sons and their wives and children, unwed paternal aunts, and, sometimes, unwed paternal uncles. In short, this unit is composed of blood relatives plus women who were brought into the kin through marriage. This unit is an economic as well as a social unit and is governed by the grandfather or eldest male. The third type of blood kin unit is the or clan. It consists of all individuals, male or female, who claim descent from the same paternal ancestor. The Arab village community is normally composed of three or four such clans, and each of these units of clans are composed of several joint families.

The Arab family is the center of all loyalty, obligation, and status of its members. The individual’s loyalty and duty to his or her family are greater than any other social obligation. From birth until death, the Arab individual is always identified with other members of the joint family in name and social status. Once a child is born to a young couple, the people stop referring to the parents by their first names and begin calling them after the name of their child. Arabs used to call each others by using their euphemistic name ‘surname’ rather than the first name because such a euphemistic name will maximize and increase the honorific and respectable character of the person. Unlike the western culture, Women are related in the same fashion through the patrilineal line, and they maintain such identification even after marriage; though women do not add their husband’s name to their own after marriage.

Arab families are patrilineal, which designates descent from the father’s side, as well as patriarchal, meaning conferring male power, responsibility and privilege. Patrilineality defines social relations, inheritance, joint economic operations, occasionally one’s defense group, and control over female sexuality. Women continue to belong to their father’s family after marriage. Their fathers and brothers can be a defense against their husbands – significantly more so than is the English norm.

A Muslim marriage is both a sacred act and a legal agreement, in which either partner is free to include legitimate conditions. From an Islamic perspective, marriage legalizes sexual relations and provides the framework for procreation. From a social perspective, it brings together not only the bride and groom but also their nuclear families.

The main factors considered in the selection of a mate are the character, reputation, and economic and social status of the prospective in-laws, followed by the character and reputation of the spouses-to-be. Preference is usually given to relatives(cousins) in which such a marriage among relatives is not acceptable in western society. Unlike the western culture, Islam does not accept the relations of boyfriend or girlfriend or adultery before marriage since such relations are not allowed according to the Islamic rules and they will break the system of the society by giving birth to illegal children whom they have not any kin relations.

 

Ethiopian Culture

Author's Note: 
This is to understand how Ethipian culture has evolved over time, how the natives live in their society, celebrate their culture and aspire towards a better knit family

The name “Ethiopia” is derived from the Greek ethio which means “burned” and pia: meaning “face”: the land of burned-faced peoples.

Ethiopia was home to some of the earliest hominid populations and possibly the region where Homo erectus evolved and expanded out of Africa to populate Eurasia 1.8 million years ago. The traditional theory states that immigrants from the Arabian peninsula settled in northern Ethiopia, bringing with them their language, proto-Ethiopian (or Sabean), which has also been discovered on the eastern side of the Red Sea.

Society and its Stratification

There are four major social groups.

At the top are high-ranking lineages, followed by low-ranking lineages. Caste groups constitute the third social stratum. Slaves and the descendants of slaves are the lowest social group. This four-tier system is traditional; the contemporary social organization is dynamic, especially in urban areas.

Symbols of social stratification in rural areas include the amount of grain and cattle a person possesses. Apart from health, the amount of education, the neighborhood in which one lives, number of automobiles and the job one holds are also symbols status.

Marriage

Arranged marriages are the norm, although it is becoming much less common now in urban areas. The presentation of a dowry from the male’s family to the female’s family is commonly observed which may include livestock, money, or other socially valued items.

The proposal usually involves elders, who travel from the groom’s house to the parents of the bride to ask for the marriage, who then decide when and where the ceremony takes place. For the wedding, both the families prepare food and drink brewing wine and beer and cooking food.

Family

Family structure is much larger than the typical nuclear unit. The oldest male is usually the head of the household and is in charge of decision making. Men, usually having the primary income, control the family economically and distribute money. Women are in charge of domestic life and have significantly more contact with the children. The father is seen as an authority figure. Children are socially required to care for their parents, and so there are often three to four generations in a household.

However, with the advent of urban living this pattern is changing and children often choose to live far from their families and thus have a much harder time supporting them.

Kinship

Descent is traced through both the mother’s and father’s families, but the male line is more valued than the female. It is customary for a child to take the father’s first name as his or her last name.

In rural areas, villages are often composed of kin groups that offer support during difficult times. The kin group in which one participates tends to be in the male line. Elders are respected, especially men, and are regarded as the source of a lineage. In general, an elder or groups of elders are responsible for settling disputes within a kin group or clan.