FAMILY   LIFE
Croatians have a powerful sense of kinship. Folksongs and poems celebrate the virtues of family life and family members' love for one another. Making personal sacrifices to benefit and honour one's family is highly regarded.

Most Croatians (78%) are ethnic Croat, with Serbs as the largest minority (12%); however, other than religion, there is little cultural distinction between these groups. Traditionally, Croatians lived in large families headed by the oldest male. The family extended to include relatives on both sides, the parents' best man and bridesmaid, and godparents. Godparenting (kumstvo), an ancient practice, entailed lifelong responsibility and is, to a lesser extent, still practised. Today, most households consist of a nuclear family, and women generally have an equal status to men in both the household and Croatian society. Still, aspects of older ways remain. For example, elderly parents, especially if widowed, will usually live with their adult children or grandchildren. In rural areas, large families are still the norm and considered an asset to family farms, which usually pass down from father to son.

Croatians treat the life cycle rites of birth, marriage and death with great importance and mark them with religious rituals. Weddings are the most lavish celebration. In the countryside, guests may include most of a village population. In towns, weddings are a chance for distant relatives to come together. Most couples have church weddings, followed by a feast.

Croatian children are raised under strict discipline and expected to respect their elders. In cities, many families now have only one or two children, though overall family size is higher in Croatia than other European nations. Like elsewhere in Europe, divorce has also become more common.

A little over half the Croatian population lives in urban areas. City dwellers may live in old stone buildings or modern high-rises. Traditional rural houses are often one- or two-storey wooden homes made of exquisitely decorated Slovenian oak. Along the coast, houses are traditionally made of whitewashed stone, though nowadays they may be concrete.





  Did you know?
Croatians have a spectacular variety of traditional costumes, which creatively co-ordinate fabrics, leather, shapes and colours and an abundance of lace. Golden and multicoloured threads depict the prosperity of the various regions.