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Honour of the house and of the family

Importance of the honour of the house and of the family

The awareness of the people surveyed about the importance of safeguarding the family name and not disgracing the surname or the memory of the forefathers was widespread in the places surveyed.

Solidarity between relatives

It was reported in general that there was solidarity between relatives and they helped each other in certain life situations. That cooperation could be seen in help with housework and urgent jobs, and, above all, in cases of misfortune and illness. The surveys revealed that neighbours would give as much or greater assistance to the family as to kin.

Rich relatives and poor relatives

In many locations surveyed, it was reported that duties or obligations as such between rich and poor relatives no longer existed and there was greater solidarity in the past. Some people explained that whether or not help was given depended on the individual, in some cases it was given and in others not.

Relatives who emigrated

Two traditions were discovered regarding relatives who emigrated to faraway lands. one, found in berganzo, pipaón (a); berastegi, zerain (g) and goizueta (n), where the ties would face and the relationship between the emigrant and their family and their birthplace would end being cut. the other was that the relationship would be maintained, although sometimes weaker, to solve administrative problems and formalities so that the emigrant would not have to travel; sometimes the ties were strong and could even end with the emigrant returning to their homeland. the relationship usually was kept up for one or two generations.

Observance and visits

It was gleaned from the surveys has been or is a good excuse to visit relatives without it needing to be a special occasion. There were many visits, but there were reasons deemed to be unavoidable. These include visiting a sick relative and after a baby had been born. It was usual to take a gift and it reflected the importance of the status in that a better gift was given to someone better off and the other way around, a simpler one to a poorer family.

In those situations, and regardless of any material assistance provided, they used to visit the sick relative, particularly in chronic cases[1], and also give the family a gift. It has also been the custom to visit relatives who had lost a loved one.

The slaughtering of the pig at the farmstead is and, above all, has been when it used to be most common, another opportunity to give relatives and neighbours gifts who would return the favourite[2].

Effects of the kinship


Hospitality between relatives, as seen from the surveys, was clear mainly in the ordinary visits to the family home from the members who had moved away. They would come back to visit their hometown for the patron saint’s festivities and they would be the reciprocal visits to the places of residence of relatives in the different towns and cities.

Settling debts

The data gathered in the surveys were in response to the question of whether or not the relatives would assume the ordinary debts contracted by close relatives. Relatives usually paid and assumed the debts of other relatives if there was a risk of the family home being lost, otherwise there was not much solidarity shown.

Status of the elderly and ill

In the past, the elderly and ill would usually be looked after at home. Nowadays, the sick is usually admitted to hospital and the elderly to retirement and nursing homes to receive the necessary care and attention.

Despite the domestic arguments and grievances, the parents continued to live at home when they were old and were looked after by the young couple who lived with them. in the past, according to the people surveyed, the elderly lived in precarious material conditions. the elderly and the sick were considered a burden that was assume contractually. in order to understand this situation, it has to be taken into account that the traditional home was as well as a shelter, a company where all the members had their role to play. no longer participating in it would lead to self-marginalization.

  1. ETNIKER EUSKALERRIA, Ritos funerarios en Vasconia. Atlas Etnográfico de Vasconia = Euskalerriko Atlas Etnografikoa = Atlas Ethnographique du Pays Basque = Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country. Volume X. Bilbao: Etniker Euskalerria; [Vitoria-Gasteiz]: Eusko Jaurlaritza; [Pamplona]: Government of Navarre, 1995, pp. 88-91.
  2. ETNIKER EUSKALERRIA, La alimentación doméstica en Vasconia. Atlas Etnográfico de Vasconia = Euskalerriko Atlas Etnografikoa = Atlas Ethnographique du Pays Basque = Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country. Volume III. [Vitoria-Gasteiz]: Eusko Jaurlaritza; Bilbao: Etniker Euskalerria, 1990, p. 182.