Cahita - Marriage and Family

Marriage. In the past a wedding was an elaborate household ritual, although more recently it has become simpler or is omitted either when a couple elopes or at the time of a second or third union, when the couple simply begins living together. No clear postmarital residence rules have been discovered, although many Mayo express strong matrilocal preferences—"Our daughter should stay at home." In fact, this is not a clear social pattern, as couples often opt for a pragmatic solution. Formal divorce is unusual among the Cahita, owing to earlier years of high death rates and revolution, but many individuals have experienced the death of a first spouse and eventually begin living with a second or third spouse. Others simply run away and begin living with someone else. There is much joking and gossip about those who have multiple spouses. Although this practice is not permissible within the formal Catholic church, multiple women living in the household of an especially well-known individual have been observed. This suggests that polygyny was an accepted pattern in precontact times.

Domestic Unit. The household, consisting of related nuclear and extended families, is the basic domestic unit. Related individuals living in a room or rooms around a common cooking area constitute the household. The household was traditionally the scene of the major passage rituals of birth, marriage, and death as well as that of socialization of the children and the major work area of the mature women.

Inheritance. With very little except lands and a household plot to inherit, inheritance is very informal. The few items of material culture are shared among the closest relatives, especially the members of the household.

Socialization. Initial socialization takes place within the household, the children being raised by parents, kin, and then as they mature, by siblings. As children approach 6 years of age, they not only enter school but also dance as Matachines (a church dance sodality) and take part in the Lenten processions and Easter-week rituals. In the household, children are taught honesty, truthfulness, and the value of fulfilling promises. "Good words" are much preferred over physical punishment, which is rarely administered.


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