Kashubians - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kashubian marriages are arranged through a matchmaker. Long before marriageable age, a young woman begins to make her bridal outfit and to accumulate her trousseau. Once the match is approved by the couple's parents and the dowry has been fixed, arrangements for the wedding begin. Just after the arrangements are set, the father (if the groom-to-be is the eldest son or inheriting daughter) signs over title to the family farm. Weddings occur in winter, when the demands of the farm are less. The celebration includes wedding breakfasts, church service, dinners, and dancing; traditionally it went on for several days. Premarital sexual relations are known to occur and do not constitute a sufficient reason for marriage, even if a child results from the affair. Divorce is greatly frowned upon.

The household, taken as being established upon the marriage of a young couple, consists of the husband and wife, their children, and the dependent parents from whom the right to the farm was derived.

Kashubians undertake a great many precautions during a woman's pregnancy to ensure the well-being of the newborn, involving the observance of a number of food and behavioral taboos. Newborns spend the first part of their lives tightly swaddled. As they get a bit older, their care falls to elder Children for the most part, and young Kashubians are expected to begin helping out around the farm at the time that they attain school age.

Kashubian households are largely independent and self-sufficient. Although subject to the laws of the Polish state, local authority is vested in the individual heads of Households. There is little call for group cooperation beyond that of the family, except in the case of religious observances, and in such matters leadership falls to the priest or minister of the local church. Otherwise, it is the individual's reputation for honesty, hard work, and perhaps wit that will persuade others in the village to accept his or her advice or suggestions regarding community action.

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