In a Syrian family, having children is very important. When a couple has a son, the mother and father are identified by the name of their son. If, for example, they name their first son Yassar, the father becomes Abu Yassar or “father of Yassar” and the mother becomes Umm Yassar or “mother of Yassar.” 

Children in Syria usually do not leave their parents’ home until they are married, and some newlywed couples live with their parents for a few years after marriage. Weddings are major social events. Arranged marriages are still common in Syria, especially in villages and among the Bedouins. In the cities, there is usually more freedom to choose a marriage partner, but the parents of both partners must agree to the marriage. Before the wedding, the groom usually pays a bride-price (majr) to the bride’s family. 

Syrian men have a strong sense of individual and family honour (known as ird). Women do not have equal status with men, and men and women seldom socialize together, except within the family home. Although it is legal for Muslims to have more than one wife, few Syrians follow this practice. It is unusual for Syrians to divorce.

The elderly are treated with respect and remain with their families all their lives. There are no nursing homes in Syria. When there is a death in the family, there are usually three days of mourning. Friends, relatives and neighbours visit the family during this time. Women relatives of the person who has died are expected to wear black for many months afterwards.

  Did you know?
When a Muslim person dies, he or she must be buried within 24 hours, dressed only in a shroud.
In cities, most people live in apartments that they own. Wealthy people sometimes build vacation homes in the mountains or by the sea. Villages tend to be poorer than cities. Villagers live in small houses with courtyards. Most Syrian village houses have electricity, and some have indoor plumbing.

For the Bedouins, life has changed during the last few decades. In the past they raised and herded sheep. They moved from one feeding ground to another, living in tents that could be easily packed up and moved. Today most have settled in cities and towns and have jobs in industry or with the government, but a few still live a semi-nomadic life in the desert.

  Did you know?
Some Syrian groups consider that the best marriages are between first cousins. Circassians and Syrian Christians, however, forbid marriages between first cousins.