Macedonian culture is very family oriented. The extended family members are very involved with people’s daily lives as, typically, all generations will live together in one household. This household structure eases the financial pressure on all the members of the family and allows grandparents to help raise the youngest generation. Some wealthy Macedonians who can afford to live in nuclear households may do so. Nevertheless, multigenerational households remain the cultural preference. The importance of close family ties is often visible in the architecture of Macedonian houses that have a central courtyard shared by all family members.
Adult children usually stay in the home of their parents until they are married. Traditionally, sons live in their parents’ homes with their wives throughout their adulthood. However, if parents can afford it, they may prefer to build or buy a house for their son as a wedding gift so he and his newlywed wife can live near the family. A daughter will move in with her husband’s family at marriage, or live as close to them as possible with her spouse. It is usually a son’s responsibility to care for his parents, as the daughter is expected to attend to her in-laws. If a man has moved out of his parents’ home in adulthood, it is assumed that the parents will move into his house with his wife and children once they become too old to care for themselves.
Age is highly regarded, and older family members have significant authority over younger generations. Traditionally, family dynamics were with the oldest male (usually the grandfather) holding the most decision-making power. However, today, family decisions are much more consensus-based. During times of hardship (like sickness), the whole family is likely to be consulted. Generally, Albanian families are more than Macedonian families.
Traditionally, children are supported and raised by multiple family members throughout their lives. While children are primarily cared for by their parents, their grandparents usually look after them whilst their parents work. Almost all children are also allocated a godmother and godfather at birth. These are usually chosen from within the family and are thought to be the couple that will care for the child should something happen to their parents before they reach adulthood.
Some families may be partially split as the poor economic climate of North Macedonia has prompted some members to seek work in foreign places in order to provide for others. Indeed, much of the Macedonian Australian population are descendants of ‘pechalbar’ – Macedonian migratory workers. However, generally people still maintain close connections with relatives overseas.
Most Macedonian women work to ease the tough economic conditions in the country. However, women are generally thought of as the homemaker, and the responsibilities of attending to the household and children tend to fall on wives. Grandmothers often play a significant role in caring for the children and helping with chores to allow mothers a stronger work-life balance. On the other hand, men are expected to provide the main source of income for the family.
Relationships and Marriage
Macedonians generally approach dating with the prospect of a long-term relationship in mind. Marriage is the ultimate goal; thus, dates are less casual than what Australians are accustomed to. Divorce is not very common in North Macedonia; it often fractures deeply interconnected households and are hence generally avoided for the sake of the family.
Albanians have slightly different dynamics. Families may have more involvement in and influence over a woman’s romantic life. In rural areas, they may require their family’s approval of their choice of partner.
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