Chontal of Tabasco - Marriage and Family



Marriage, Domestic Unit, and Inheritance. In the past, it was the custom for parents to arrange the marriages of their children. The young man's parents would visit the young woman's parents several times to discuss the marriage. If the marriage was agreed upon, a date was fixed, and a more formal ceremony was held with the young woman's relatives. The groom would bring gifts—candles, maize, beans, cacao, and turkey—to make a large meal to celebrate the wedding announcement. A civil wedding ceremony, occasionally followed by a religious ceremony, would take place several weeks later. Often, the couple would remain at the young man's parents' house until they were able to build their own.

Modern weddings are less formal. The couple, often after a furtive relationship, decide to get married. If the parents do not agree to the marriage, the couple may run away and live together. Common-law marriages are accepted by the community. Most households consist of nuclear families.

Land and property are usually transferred from parents to children in accordance with Mexican law and parental wishes.

Socialization. Chontal-speaking communities are in a state of rapid change. Traditional values and rituals are being replaced with working-class Ladino values. Children are being exposed to mainstream Mexican and Catholicchurch values and culture through priests, nuns, missionaries, schoolteachers, radio, and television. In many communities, children are being taught Spanish instead of Chontal.


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