Pasiegos - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. Pasiegos share the general Spanish mode of reckoning descent bilaterally. There are no corporate kin groups beyond the nuclear family. No bounded kindred is recognized; beyond the nuclear family, kin are joined only by a diffuse, nonbinding definition of "family" within which particular relationships may be strengthened by friendship or weakened by enmity.

Kinship Terminology. Pasiegos use the bilateral kinship terminology and naming system general to Spain and largely shared in western Europe.

Marriage. Pasiego herders generally marry early, around age 20. Nonherders tend to marry later. Courtship among herders is conducted in the cabaña kitchens; nonherders court in public places. Herder couples may begin to cohabit after posting banns and prior to the wedding ceremony; nonherders do not. Bride and groom, if herders, may live natolocally for up to a year, each doing service to his/her parents, until the first grass harvest after marriage is brought in. They have then earned the marriage portion from both sides. If personal or economic factors favor a less symmetrical arrangement, bride and groom may reside with and help one set of parents and then, probably, expect a better marriage portion from them. When newlyweds separate from senior households, through parental donation, rental, or purchase, they occupy their own cabañas and meadows and start their own herd, usually with cows from their marriage portions. Couples begin families at or even before formal marriage. Families are large and no systematic means of birth control is in use.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family household is standard but is typically enlarged by the temporary residence of a newlywed child or couple and sometimes by a coresident single or widowed relative. Residents outside the nuclear family, including newlyweds, are lodged by carefully contracted arrangements.

Inheritance. Men and women inherit equally and both carry their property into marriage. The Castilian civil code governing inheritance corresponds with custom and admits some preferential treatment of favored heirs. Property transmission generates anxiety and often open conflict among heirs, since meadow quality varies and parents accept the latitude permitted by the code. Parents sometimes donate their major holdings to their children during their lifetime in exchange for support (these contracts vary and are formally notarized), but many leave transmission until after death. If so, each spouse's property passes separately.

Socialization. Children in the herding community are early socialized into adult roles and independence. Socialization in the nonherding community is into the more complex, role-differentiated social structure familiar in European town life. In both cases, family life is fairly informal and admits open expression of affection and disaffection.

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