Swiss, Italian - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Regional and village endogamy was the rule in the past. Young people met on church visits and at church festivals and feasts. Informal, secret meetings of the future spouses ( kiltgang ) existed in the alpine valleys. For the engagement, a man offered a gift ( dotta ) to the woman, which was taken as a promise of marriage. Today young people meet within peer groups, at discos and sporting events, at school, or at work. In urban centers young people often live together before marriage and get married when the woman is pregnant. Normally the wedding is of three parts: legal, religious, and celebratory. The bride and the groom are led to church by their witness. Rice as a sign of fertility is thrown on the spouses after the religious ceremony. The celebration takes place in a restaurant or in a community room and consists of a banquet, wedding cake, fireworks, and music. Depending on the importance of kin and on one's financial status, only the next of kin or also aunts and uncles and friends are invited to the party. Cousins are invited to the religious Ceremony, for a drink afterward, and for lunch. Postmarital residence depends on the working place of the husband and economic opportunities and is usually neolocal.

Domestic Unit. Extended nuclear families with grandparents or other kin in the same household are rather rare. Economic mobility encourages nuclear families or one-person households and second residences ( pendolarismo ).

Inheritance. Roman law as a historical base of inheritance rules demands a division of property. Sometimes this leads to a situation where houses cannot be renovated or sold because the heirs cannot be located or do not agree.

Socialization. The growing role of public social institutions has reduced the socialization role of the family and has intensified generational conflicts. For young people, owning a car signifies freedom and also produces a high traffic-death rate among young men. In the valleys, family gatherings for Sunday lunches at the house of the grandmother ( mamma/nonna ) are common and highly valued.


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