Tzotzil of Zinacantan - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The patterns of courtship and marriage are innovative creations deriving from both ancient Tzotzil and sixteenth-century Spanish Catholic practices. A formal petitioning for the bride is followed by a lengthy courtship, during which gifts are presented by the boy's family to the girl's family. On the wedding day, the couple goes through a triple ritual process of registering at the town hall, then having a Catholic priest marry them in the church, and finally attending an elaborate Tzotzil ceremony at the house of the groom. The bride is then left in her new home. Since the 1980s, a majority of Zinacantecos have been eloping, thereby reducing the time and expense for all concerned.

Socialization. All Zinacanteco babies are born at home with the aid of midwives, who attend the mother, assist in the birth (which takes place in a crouching position, over a reed mat), cut the umbilical cord with a machete, and perform the necessary after-birth rituals. Babies are kept constantly with their mothers, nursing, wrapped in shawls and carried on their mothers' backs, or asleep beside their mothers in bed. After a few months, the infants' contacts are expanded to include members of the extended family. By age 7 or 8, girls begin to work for the household; at 9 or 10, boys begin to accompany their fathers to work in the fields.

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