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Regional customs and habits

Customs of Botswana

Marriage and Family

Because of the expense involved in formal marriage, more than half of all couples live together rather than marrying. Traditional ceremonies involve two or more days of eating, drinking, dancing, and speeches. When a couple becomes engaged, the two families begin negotiations regarding the bogadi (bride-price), which the groom’s family gives to the bride’s family. Civil weddings are sometimes followed by traditional celebrations.

Customs of Bulgaria

Marriage and Family

The average age for women to marry is between 18 and 25. Men tend to marry when somewhat older. A church wedding often follows the legal civil ceremony, and a large reception, which often involves folk music and dancing, is held in the evening. Wedding traditions include pinning money on the bride’s dress to represent future prosperity, the groom serenading the bride at her home, and the couple pulling on opposite ends of a loaf of bread—whoever gets the largest piece will be the boss of the family. Honeymoons are a new tradition.

Customs of Cambodia

Marriage and Family

Although intermarriage between Khmer and other ethnic groups was a common practice in the past, it is not today. Wedding celebrations last a full day and are occasions for many guests, abundant food, and plenty of music.

4.74 children per woman (2001)Several generations usually live together or near one another, and the elderly are cared for by their children. Because so many men died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has a large number of orphans, widows, and single-parent families. Single mothers who do not remarry tend to gather in small clans of women and children for mutual aid and companionship. Khmer tradition allows for a man to take more than one wife (including widows), but few do so because of the economic burden involved.

Customs of Burundi

Marriage and Family

Most Burundians live in self-contained compounds of small round grass huts scattered over the country’s many hills. The rugo, the traditional Tutsi hut, is divided into sections and surrounded by an enclosure and cattle corrals. Social roles are largely determined by ethnicity; the Tutsi are known traditionally as herders, the Hutu as peasant farmers, and the Twa as hunter-gatherers. Family life is central in all groups. Traditionally, the principal goal in life was parenthood.

Customs of Cameroon

Marriage and Family

Marriage is taken very seriously by the couple’s families, even if the two meet nontraditionally. Negotiations can last months or years, involving obligations after marriage for many people on both sides. Women marry at an average age of 19 and men at 27 (younger in rural areas, older in cities). Ceremonies are usually simple, but some couples in urban areas choose to have a European-style reception.