Castillans - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is a milestone in the lives of Individuals and for the community. Young village girls will pray to the saints to bring them husbands, and fiestas are occasions for girls to flirt with the boys they favor. For males, it is only upon marriage that full adult status is achieved. It is nearly unheard of for a male to marry prior to the completion of his national military service, and couples do not care to marry before achieving at least a minimal degree of independence, so that couples tend to postpone marriage until about the age of twenty-five. There is strong social pressure for individuals to marry within their own socioeconomic class. When exceptions occur, they usually involve a male of higher class and status marrying "beneath" his station—rarely the other way around. Marriages between first cousins can and do occur, but they require special church dispensation. Parents exercise a great deal of control in the selection of their children's prospective spouses, but they do not arrange the actual match. Rather, a young man and woman will develop an interest in one another, and should they desire marriage the young man will formally request that the woman's parents consider him as a formal suitor. Upon the acquiescence of the woman's parents, the couple may begin holding hands in public, and they are invited to social occasions together. Propriety is carefully maintained during courtship, for not only the reputation of the couple but also that of their respective families may be damaged by scandal. A young woman is expected to be modest and, above all, chaste before marriage. Upon becoming formally engaged, the bride-to-be begins to prepare her trousseau of linen and clothing, all finely embroidered by the young woman, or handed down to her by her mother. In much of Castile, the groom pays a small sum (traditionally not to exceed 10 percent of his fortune, now often a token sum). Until relatively recently, marriages throughout Spain were recognized only when consecrated by the church, but with the introduction of laws allowing religious choice in the 1960s, civil ceremonies became permissible. Still it remains rare for a couple to marry outside of the church in most of Castile. The ceremony is held in the parish church of the bride. During the ceremony, a white veil is held over the bride's head and the groom's shoulders, to symbolize the submissive role a proper wife should adopt toward her husband. Spiritual sponsors (godparents) stand with the bride and groom at the ceremony. These traditionally were the father of the bride and the mother of the groom, but they now may be aunts and uncles or influential friends. There are strong prohibitions against adultery and divorce.

Domestic Unit. A new domestic unit is established with marriage, and it is expected that a couple will live apart from the parents of either spouse. However, the parents of the new bride usually will provide substantial assistance in the Purchase or building of the new home, so that the couple Generally takes up residence in the vicinity of the bride's parents.

Inheritance. Inheritance is bilateral—each child can expect to inherit an equal share of each parent's property.

Socialization. Child rearing is a mother's responsibility. The relation between father and child is distant, and it remains so between father and son throughout their lives. Concern for the good name of oneself and one's family in the face of possible gossip or censure is very high.

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