July 24, 2012 - Cousins Day

Your cousins are (generally speaking) your aunts' and uncles' kids.

They may help you from going crazy during long Thanksgiving feasts, or they may drive you crazy at family birthday parties! They may be almost exactly your age, or they may seem to be an entire generation older or younger than you. You may see your cousins every single week, or you may have never met them before in your life. 

Whatever the case, consider visiting or calling your cousins today to catch up or to make new memories!

Did you know...?

Different societies keep track of (and name) different relatives...well, differently! For example, in traditional Iroquois culture, your father's brothers are called the Iroquois word for “father,” just as your actual father is! However, your father's sisters are called “aunt.” In the same way, your mother's sisters are called the Iroquois word for “mother,” but your mother's brothers are called “uncle.” Your father's brother's kids are not called “cousins,” as they would be in the modern U.S. society—instead, they are your brothers and sisters. But your father's mother's kids are considered your cousins. These are just some of the differences between Iroquois and my own kinship systems.

People of South Sudan, in Africa, have different names for your father's brother and for your mother's brother. (Let's say, “funcle” for your uncle on your father's side, and “muncle” for the one on your mother's side.) The Sudanese have a different name yet for your mother's sister's husband, and another name for your father's sister's husband. So there are four different sorts of names for the various people I would call “uncles.” The same is true for all the varying sorts of aunts, and there are eight different kin names for all the different sorts of cousins!

Even in my own society, there are a lot of kin terms that I don't really know or use. For example, who is my second cousin once removed? Well, my second cousin is my grandpa's sister's grandchild, whoever he or she may be (let's says it's a she, and her name is Sally)—well, in that case my second cousin once removed would be Sally's child! See, I really don't know who those people are; if I met them on the street and asked what our relationship was, I would say “stranger”! And this is my own kinship system I'm talking about!

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