Finns - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Endogamous tendencies characterized marriage in Finnish rural society, with mates frequently chosen from the same village, parish, or rural commune. This tendency was most pronounced in the eastern districts among large Karelian joint families and those of the same background and status. Night courting and bundling rituals achieved a high degree of elaboration among the youth of southwestern Finland. Originally, bilocal marriages began with engagement and leave-taking ( läksiäiset ) ceremonies at the bride's home and ended with wedding rites ( häät ) held at the groom's home. Under church influence these were replaced by unilocal weddings staged at the bride's home. In recent years community and regional endogamy has declined. In the strict sense marriage rates have also declined, as cohabitation has become more common in urban areas. However, the latter pattern preserves some of the "trial marriage" aspects of Earlier times when weddings were performed to finalize a Marriage after a woman had conceived a child.

Domestic Unit. Historically, joint families were common in the eastern Karelian area where a founding couple, their adult male children, and the latter's in-marrying wives formed multiple-family farm households that were among the largest (20-50 persons) in Scandinavia. Elsewhere in Finland it has been common for only one child to remain on the parents' farmstead, and smaller stem and nuclear families have prevailed. Overall, family size has become smaller under the Impact of urbanization, dropping from an average of 3.6 persons in 1950 to 2.7 by 1975.

Inheritance. A common historical pattern was for a son to take over a farm and care for his parents in their old age. As suggested previously (see under "Land Tenure"), the custom of patrilineal transmission is changing, perhaps as differential migration to cities alters the sex ratios of rural areas. In many cases, relinquishing coheirs (usually siblings who move away) must be compensated for their shares in a farm by the remaining heir, and often this is done with timber income from a farm's forest tracts.

Socialization. Gritty perseverance ( sisu ), personal autonomy and independence, and respect for the autonomy of Others are central themes in Finnish child training and the Finnish personality.


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