The family, the household and the man’s role

Family is very important for Sicilian people

Posted by Sicilian Ancestry on July 31, 2018

The father is the lead of the family and its role is kept with no discussion while the mother is in charge of the house affairs and of their children’s supervision. The mother’s role is granted by the father’s will to whom she obeys unconditionally even when he does not deserve it. In case of arguments between them, the mother does not stand other people to interfere with it.

“It takes a fool to interfere with an argument between husband and his wife.”

Generally speaking the husband does not show his love for his wife, nevertheless he treats her with great respect. The wife on the other hand gives all herself to her husband.

Children represent the heart of the family, its strength and its foundation. Sons are meant to support the family needs and they are often chosen to work.

“Have lot of children and share them with the earth.”

It means their time should be spent equally to work the earth and enjoy the family.

All children’s income are given to their mother which takes care of the food and the expenses. Once sons are grown enough and their parents are confident they can manage on their own, the parents organize their wedding. The spouse is never researched outside the village as she must be someone reliable and her family well-known. A marriage with a rival family is prohibited. The spouse (in sicilian called “zita”) offers a dowry, the groom shares something from his parent’s belonging.

The wife loyalty is strict within middle-classes or down below. Wife never watches for other men and she always remembers to herself that her husband is all the life she got, even if he is unworthy or unfaithful. Adulteress (in sicilian called “malafemmine”) are left to their vile profession while men return to their wifes.

Religion is a crucial part of the children’s education within the family and they are initiated to it by their parents according to their belief. Everyday families pray the Lord for his bless and fortune to themselves and their relatives. The usage of the rosary is surprisingly well spread even in big cities.

Families with no children or families who took an oath with the Lord usually adopt an orphan and when he is 7 year’s old they take him to a poorhouse when they will be educated. The father and the mother, the so called “milk-mother”, feel the separation.

On Sundays they pay him a visit, sometimes travelling a lot too, and should they find him ill they pray for the poorhouse to let him go back to the family in order to be healed and cherished. sometimes the poorhouse master used to reject the child to leave as the “milk-mother” was not wealthy enough to provide the infant with the required care.

Old family in Catania, 1941

The farmer is the autocrat in the family. His wife addresses him with noble respects and he is always served food first at the table. Children must ask for his permission for everything while his wife is granted by the farmer for their spouse/groom selection. The children are subjugated by their parent’s will and they accept their destiny even if they are matched with an older or crippled partner, often saying “this is my mother’s will”.