Regional customs and habits

Customs of Estonia

Marriage and Family

Estonians usually marry in their early 20s, after they have finished their education. Couples often live together before or instead of marriage. Weddings are generally secular, but church weddings are becoming more popular. Parents from both families help to organize the celebration and invite friends and relatives. Newlywed couples commonly live with their parents until they are more financially established.

Customs of Ethiopia

Marriage and Family

Because marriage represents the union of two families, the choice of spouse is usually arranged by the families, although individuals have some say in the decision. Divorce is not common.

The Amharic family is strongly patriarchal, a pattern typical throughout Ethiopia. Sons usually bring their brides to live with or near their father’s family, and three or more generations in the male line frequently live under one roof. Age is highly respected in Ethiopia, and the elderly are cared for by their children. Women’s duties and privileges are clearly defined both within the home and elsewhere, and most women lead sheltered lives. Families tend to be very private.

Customs of Gabon

Marriage and Family

The family often has great influence in the choice of a marriage partner. Girls are sometimes promised at a very young age, although the wedding does not take place (if at all) until after puberty. A groom must often give gifts, called dot, to the bride’s family when the couple get engaged and when they marry. The Gabonese generally marry within the ethnic group but mostly outside of their village, to avoid marrying relatives. A woman may be encouraged to have a child or two before marriage to prove her fertility; these children are often raised by the woman’s mother. If a marriage fails, the dot must be repaid, and the children born in wedlock remain with the father.

Customs of Finland

Marriage and Family

Many young couples choose to live together before or instead of marriage. When a couple marries, the two have the right to keep their original surnames or take that of their spouse. Their children may also bear either surname.

Families are small (having one or two children is the norm), and the Finnish government, worried about a shrinking labor force having to fund benefits for increasing numbers of retired people, has been trying to increase the birthrate.

Customs of Georgia

Marriage and Family

Georgians are usually free to choose whom they marry. A traditional wedding is elaborate, with large feasts, folk dancing, and singing. Modern weddings are simpler; urban ceremonies are often quiet family events. Traditionally, a newlywed couple lives with the groom’s parents until they can afford a home of their own.