Romanian Culture

Family

One’s family is the most important aspect of life for Romanians. Relatives provide emotional and financial support to one another and generally spend much of their free time socialising together. Food plays a large role in this with families passing down cooking traditions as well as sharing home-cooked meals together. People are often very proud of their strong family networks; immediate family ties are generally very close. However, Romanians have also become more individualistic in the last 25 years, meaning some people are becoming less willing to sacrifice their personal development and growth in favour of maintaining the family unit.

 

Family Structure

The formation and structure of Romanian families have been impacted by economic and social processes. Families have become smaller and extended family ties less extensive. The nuclear family structure is the most common household configuration. Many single Romanians may also choose to live alone. The number of children a couple raises has also generally decreased, as having less children is often more financially sustainable. The age at which children move out of their parents’ home generally depends on their financial capacity to rent or buy a house. Many Romanian parents allow their child to live in their family home unconditionally (i.e. not paying rent) until they have the means to leave, whenever that may be.

 

Many Romanians are also moving abroad to find employment opportunities and are only able to visit their family back in Romania every few years. While the remittances sent back from family members abroad have reduced poverty and income inequality for many families, widespread emigration has also split many families. A trend of paternal emigration for work means that many children in Romania live without one or both parents, often taken care of by extended family or older siblings.1 This is most prevalent among low-income rural families (see Emigration in Core Concepts).2

 

Family Dynamic

The role of the family in aged care continues to be very important for most Romanians, especially for the older generation and those living in rural areas. Elders are highly respected in Romanian culture and it is still very common for grandparents to live with the family. Traditionally, all members of the family are expected to share the responsibilities of looking after their elderly family members into their old age, regardless of each person’s individual life circumstances. The concept of putting a relative into an aged care home is unfathomable for many people. Many Romanian families living in other countries continue to uphold this practice. However, the second generation (children of migrants who were not born in Romania) may find this tradition more difficult. Family ties can be stressed by the difficulty of balancing the growing demands of one’s own children with the needs of ageing parents.


Gender Roles

Romanian families are traditionally patriarchal, with lineage being passed through the male line of the family. Men are usually the main income earners, while women assume most of the responsibilities within the household (caregiving and domestic work). However, Romanian women generally have a lot of authority in their households as mothers and grandmothers. Many women also work to increase the household income and all generally have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Nevertheless, their domestic role means their participation in the labour market is different.3 For example, they continue to dominate low-status and low-paying jobs and do not occupy as many leadership positions and are underrepresented in politics.4 


During the communist era, men and women were mostly depicted in similar uniforms, promoting homogenous, desexualised images of gender aesthetics.5 However, today Romanians generally possesses strong conceptions and beauty standards about femininity and masculinity. Women are expected to be well groomed and have a feminine look. Many also take deep pride and fulfilment in their cooking skills. Although men are also expected to present themselves tidily, it's more acceptable for them to be unshaven, slightly unkempt and out of shape. 


Marriage Practices

Romanians generally date casually throughout their teen and university years. Young couples will participate in social activities such as going to cafes or restaurants or watching a movie. Many people also socialise via the internet. Romanians usually wait until they have finished their university studies before getting married. In urban areas, people usually marry around the ages between 25 and 30. However, some Romanians have started marrying earlier in the last year of their education, partially because it is easier to access housing as a married couple. People from rural areas are also more likely to marry early. According to a widespread study of European family trends, Romanian women get married at a younger age than all of their European counterparts (at an average of 26.3 years old).6

 

The Romanian population has grown more liberal and individualistic in its views on marriage. The number of couples entering into consensual unions and cohabiting have increased.7 However, while marriage is no longer seen as a necessity, the traditional family model remains preferred. The Romanian population continues to have a more conservative view of marriage in comparison to the rest of Europe. According to the European statistics office, Romania has the fifth highest marriage rate in the EU.8 The figures also show that Romanian women are younger when they give birth to their first child and that they are less likely to have a child outside of marriage.9 


It is traditional for a Romanian man to ask a father’s permission before proposing to his daughter. Some Roma groups, such as the Roma Gabor, may give cash gifts in the engagement process. This is given with an intention to persuade the recipient family to accept the proposal and not that of someone else.10


Couples that live together whilst still unmarried may face social pressure to wed. Older unmarried women may also experience a degree of social stigma. Premarital sex is disapproved of by roughly half of the population.11 Divorce is common, but rates of divorce are lower than the European average.12 Same-sex marriage is illegal and highly stigmatised.


1 Mihai & Butiu, 2012 

2 Dospinescu & Russo, 2018

3 Sănduleasa, 2014

4 Massino & Popa, 2015

5 Vanc & White, 2011

Corselli-Norblad & Gereoffy, 2015

7 Mardare, 2015

8 Corselli-Norblad & Gereoffy, 2015

9 Corselli-Norblad & Gereoffy, 2015

10 Berta, 2018

11 Corselli-Norblad & Gereoffy, 2015

12 Corselli-Norblad & Gereoffy, 2015

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