Shetlanders - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Weddings are an important aspect of social life, especially in the rural areas. Local endogamy is common. Courtship usually occurs in the late fall and winter. Prior to the wedding, formal announcements and visits occur between the families of the bride and groom. In the past, processions of relatives walked from the home to the church and finally to the bride's parental home for the reception. Today, automobiles are used. Until this century, first-cousin marriages were not allowed. In the past, divorces were very rare.

Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is the nuclear family with neolocal residence. Today, many young couples reside with his or her parents for up to two years until they can find or build a house. Traditionally, individuals and their families pooled their resources to furnish the house and provide agricultural tools. Large families were once common; today, they are not.

Inheritance. By law, only one chosen child inherits the farm. The others receive goods, tools, furniture, etc., at the time of their marriages. Traditionally, names were also inherited: the oldest son was named after the father's father, the oldest daughter for the mother's mother, the second son after the mother's father, and the second daughter after the Father's mother.

Socialization. The care and training of children was done by the mother, older siblings, and grandmothers. Local schools are important. Those seeking upper-level schooling were sent to board at Lerwick.

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