Basques - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Basques are monogamous and exercise considerable personal choice in selecting spouses. However, people regard the marriage of the designated male or female heir to the baserria as a household affair. The parents transfer ownership of the farm to the newlyweds as part of the marital arrangements. Small villages tend to be endogamous and cousin marriage is not infrequent, including some unions Between first cousins.

Domestic Unit. The heir to the baserria and spouse form a stem-family household with his or her parents. Unmarried siblings of the heir may remain in residence in their natal households until death, but they are subject to the authority of the active male and female heads. The family works the baserria together, with children and the elderly contributing to the lighter tasks as well. In the urban areas the apartment-dwelling nuclear family, possibly with a live-in servant for the affluent, is the domestic unit. It may also contain a spinster aunt or aging parent.

Inheritance. Ownership of the baserria is transferred to a single heir in each generation. In parts of the Basque country custom dictates male primogeniture unless the candidate is blatantly unsuitable. Out-marrying siblings of the heir are provided with dowries. They also share equally in the "Personal" wealth of their deceased parents (e.g., money, jewelry, etc.). In urban areas the offspring usually share equally in the estate of the deceased, although the national legal codes favor one recipient with a maximum of one-third of the total.

Socialization. Children are raised by everyone in the household. In the case of affluent urbanites the household may also include a female domestic servant who doubles as a nanny. On the baserriak families emphasize subordination of individual interests to the well-being of the domestic unit. One child is socialized as the heir, and his or her siblings are raised with the understanding that they should leave. This system has made the rural Basque country a seedbed of emigrants.

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