Bulgarians - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage was nearly universal and usually occurred when the man and woman were in their early twenties. Village endogamy was common, though marriage of Individuals from neighboring villages was also frequent. Spouses met in the context of village life, and village work bees were major occasions for courtship. Spouse selection was based on mutual attraction, and while relatives made their feelings known, they rarely forced a couple to marry against their will. Women were expected to bring a dowry, which commonly consisted of furniture, clothing, and household textiles. Some textiles were given as gifts to wedding guests, and the remainder used by the new couple. Postmarital residence was patrilocal, with the bride going to live in the house of the groom. Divorce was viewed negatively and rarely occurred. Widows and widowers could remarry but only each other. Today marriage is still nearly universal but separation, divorce, and remarriage are fairly common. Also, as there are more contexts for interaction across localities, spouses are more likely to come from more distant locations than in the past, and neolocal Residence is not uncommon. The civil ceremony has replaced the religious one, but the remainder of festivities of the traditional wedding, such as the feasts and gift giving, have been retained, if not expanded.

Domestic Unit. Bulgaria is well known for the historical importance of large patrilocally extended households known as zadrugas , typically consisting of a couple, several married sons, and their families. This pattern was disappearing by the turn of the century, and since that time the three-generation stem family has predominated in rural areas. Nuclear family households are also very common, sometimes cooperating economically with related households. In urban areas the Nuclear family model is the predominant domestic form, though it is not uncommon to find an elderly parent living with one of his or her children.

Inheritance. Partible inheritance was legally and socially prescribed. Traditionally, daughters often received less than sons and sometimes forfeited their patrimony or gave it to a favorite brother. Brothers inherited equally, but in the case of stem families the son who stayed at home to take care of his parents received more, usually in the form of the house and other buildings. This son was typically the youngest.

Socialization. Traditionally the household and the village provided the major context for socialization of children into adults. Children learned by observation and experience. With a reduction in the number of children per couple and the increasing role of socialist education, the process has changed. Parents indulge their children and do not encourage Independence, perhaps in opposition to socialist education, which until recently stressed political ideology and commitment.

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