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Tongan Dating Advice Part 1
Livelihood[ edit ] Traditionally, fishing and farming have accounted for the livelihood of a majority of Tongans. Cash crops include squash and pumpkins , which have in recent years replaced bananas and copra as the largest agricultural exports. Vanilla is another important cash crop. A man usually holds the power and is considered the head of his household. However, a man has an obligation to care for his sister and her children. So in Tongan families ones maternal uncle or Fa'etangata, is considered lower in ranking because of his obligation to take care of the needs of his sister and her children. Contrastly in Tongan families your paternal aunt is the highest-ranking member and is referred to as mehekitanga or Fahu. Men hold power and women hold rank. In ancient Tonga one would inherit titles, land and people from their mother, after Christianity this was changed to mainly inheriting from ones father. Until recently it was Tapu taboo for any male that has passed puberty to be in the same room with his sister or girl cousins alone. This was done under the notion of respect or faka'apa'apa. The recent introduction of western ideas and culture has slowly made this taboo vary widely amongst Tongan families. At one time it was inappropriate for a brother and sister to even watch television together if the characters were to kiss or even flirt on screen. That is mostly laxed in the modern age, but you still have families that will separate the boys and girls when watching TV or movies. The notion of faka'apa'apa is still strong but the meaning of it is slowly changing especially amongst the youth of the Tongan diaspora. Other key members of Tongan kinship are the 'Ulumotu'a or the oldest male in ones extended family on your father's side, they are usually called upon to be in charge of funerals and other family events. They do not out rank a Fahu but they have power to direct events. Also noteworthy is all of your maternal aunts are called your mothers, likewise you paternal uncles are your fathers. Your cousins on either side are called your brothers or sisters. Similarly if you are female and your sisters children are called your children also because you are a mother to them. Same applies if you are a male and your brothers children will refer to you as a father. Male circumcision[ edit ] In post-contact Tonga, newly pubescent males were kamu tefe , or circumcised by cutting one slit in the foreskin, on the underside of the penis. This is a Christian practice of biblical context. Afterwards, the family held a feast for the new "man". Circumcision is still practiced, but it is now done informally. Sometimes it is done at home, with relatives present. More commonly a boy, or a group of boys, go to the hospital, where the operation is done under sanitary conditions. First menstruation Menarche [ edit ] In pre-contact Tonga, a girl's first menstruation was celebrated by a feast. This practice continued up until the midth century, at which point it fell out of favor. Death[ edit ] Contemporary funerals are large, well-attended occasions, even for Tongans who are not wealthy. Relatives gather, often travelling long distances to do so. Large amounts of food are contributed, then distributed to the crowds during and after the funeral. Funeral practices are a mix of introduced Christian rites and customs such as a wake and a Christian burial , and older indigenous customs that survive from pre-contact times. For instance, mourners wear black a Western custom but also wrap mats ta'ovala around their waist. The type and size of the mat proclaim the mourner's relationship to the deceased. Tongan families do not necessarily compete to put on the largest, grandest funeral possible, but they do strive to show respect for the deceased by doing all that is customary. This can put great strain on the resources of the immediate family and even the extended family. Sometimes the funeral is called a fakamasiva, an occasion that leads to poverty. For an extended discussion, see Tongan funerals Pre-contact Tonga[ edit ] In pre-contact Tonga, female pre-marital chastity was the ideal, if not the norm. Theoretically, a girl received suitors at a faikava , or kava-drinking gathering. She presided over the bowl, made the kava , and handed out the cups. The suitors sat in a circle around the bowl, chatting, bragging, arguing, and showing off for the demure young lady. All was done under the eye of the elders, thus protecting the maiden from any unseemly advances. In actuality, young men and women who were attracted to each other would often meet privately, in the bush or on the beach. Sometimes the young women became pregnant as a result of these meetings. Marriage might or might not result. Even if it did not, paternity was generally announced by the mother and accepted by the father. The child was usually welcomed by all relatives. The mother was not considered a "fallen woman" and could usually find a husband afterwards. There was less tolerance of sexual mistakes on the part of high-born women, who were expected to "demonstrate" their virginity by bleeding heavily on their wedding night. The groom's aunts would display the stained barkcloth or later, sheet , after bathing the bride to inspect her for cuts that might have been inflicted to draw blood. It is said that grooms might show their love and concern for non-bleeding brides by cutting themselves and smearing their own blood on the barkcloth or sheet. The virginity of the bride was the guarantee for the paternity of a high-ranking child. Another way in which high-society marriages differed from those of commoners is that marriages with close kin were allowed, rather than forbidden. After marriage , informal divorce seems to have been common and easy. An unhappy wife had only to return to her brother, who was obligated to support her. Adultery was known, as it is in every human society, but was a perilous venture, especially if the cuckolded husband was a renowned warrior. In common with many other Polynesian societies, Ancient Tonga also made room for the male transgender, fakafefine. These men wore female clothing, took on female roles, and had casual sexual liaisons with other men. There seems to have been no stigma attached to sex with a fakafefine. Related, yet different was the notion of male beauty. When a boy at young age turned out to be very handsome, he would be barred from heavy work, instead he would be pampered, his skin rubbed with oils , his hair meticulously taken care of, and so on. The idea was that in this way he would grow up to such a beauty that he would be irresistible to chief's daughters. Then a child of high rank would be born into the family, elevating the status of all. Post-contact Tonga[ edit ] After the arrival of the Europeans , a Christian marriage took place before the traditional rites, or was inserted between them. Fakafefine kept a low profile. Commoners adopted the ideal of pre-marital virginity and the display of bloody bedclothing. Divorce theoretically became formal, and difficult, though this may have only slightly discouraged informal separations and subsequent common-law unions. With the waning of missionary influence, urban youngsters are now experimenting with dances and dating , the later Western imports. Sex education is discouraged by the church; encouraged with limited success by the Ministry of Health. There are a few cases of AIDS in the kingdom, but Tonga's relative isolation has prevented the disease from becoming the scourge that it has been in other countries. Rank and status[ edit ] This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message All Polynesian cultures are strongly stratified, ranging from somewhat less to even more. Tongan culture is no exception, and despite almost two centuries of western influence, it is, together with Samoa still the most stratified culture. Below them the lower chiefs fototehina. Below them, or maybe more or less on the same level, the slaves , prisoners of war popula. In the modern context, the king remains in this position and has the final executive power of government. The high chiefs are now limited to 33 titles and called nobles nopele , but some nobles carry more than one title. They are still estate holders, and as such have some influence, but they are not the government although many of them are high ranking civil servants. The lower chiefs have disappeared and the word fototehina now means 'brothers'. And also the royal undertaker, Lauaki. Tax collection is a task for the central government only. Slavery is abolished, since the emancipation of , and all other people are just the 'commoners'. The worldly power described above can be called status. A Tongan obtains his status from his father or sometimes uncle, but always through the male line. The crownprince will succeed his father. Land ownership is only inherited through the father. However, status as such does not place you in society; this is based on rank. A Tongan obtains his rank from his mother, and that determines his place in the social order. Within the family the rank of women is higher than that of men. Likewise the elder sister of a king, if he has one, has a higher blood rank the king himself. In practice high rank and high status always go together because no high ranking woman would ever marry a commoner, and no chief would ever marry a low ranking woman. Children from that marriage, grandchildren of the king, would have obtained no significant rank. Rank and status are fixed from birth. There is no way in Tongan society to climb up in rank. A low ranking chief will always remain the lesser of a high ranking chief, even though his lands may be bigger and richer and so forth. But he can try to marry a high ranking woman, for instance if she is interested in his rich lands, and so increase the rank of his children.
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