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Social Customs & Etiquettes in Nicaragua

Nicaraguans share a sense of respect and personal distance, which is apparent in language exchanges. Nicaraguans rarely use the familiar tu form of address, even though most other Latin Americans use this casual exchange. However, the Nicaraguans routinely address one another using the informal and non-standard pronoun vos.

Exchanges of hospitality are important. Refusing a drink (especially on a hot day) or not praising the host on the quality of the meal is considered rude. Exchanging greetings is also very important. Seeing, even at a distance, someone one knows typically prompts approaching them to exchanging handshakes and kisses as appropriate. Waves and verbal salutations do not suffice.

The roles of most men and women in Nicaragua are shaped by traditional Hispanic values. Women are most respected in the role of mother, but more women have been entering the workforce since the 1980s. Men are typically not involved in child-rearing.

Like many Hispanic cultures, family relationships are highly valued and include relatives beyond the nuclear family unit. With a high fertility rate, households are large – generally comprised of six to eight persons – and include grandparents and aunts and uncles. In rural areas, large families are regarded as a blessing: parents have help with chores and farm work. In urban settings, large families with extended kin allow for creative ways in which to house entire families, despite the space constraints of city living.

Loyalty to kin is strong and extended families often reside together, sharing the childrearing duties as well as any resources of the household. The notion of kin may be extended to those not related by blood or marriage with the tradition of naming godparents.

As a predominantly devout Catholic country, Christian religious holidays are honoured. Nicaraguans celebrate Holy Wednesday in March, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Maundy Thursday marks the transition through death and into life as experienced on Good Friday and Easter. In December, Catholics honour the Immaculate Conception and Christmas. Holy Saint's days are celebrated regularly.

Each city in Nicaragua has its own patron saint and some saints may be shared between towns. The people give gifts to these saints in exchange for blessings such as healing, a good crop or a husband. Even more important than the miracles that the Nicaraguans request of the saints are the annual celebrations, known as fiestas, which are held for each saint. These fiestas are times of great joy and everyone in the city joins in the celebration. Fiestas may begin with a parade in which the statue of the saint is carried into the city, followed by a day-long party of eating, drinking and dancing.





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