Young men’s life, lad gangs

After confirmation the boy became a young man, by which his rights and obligations changed too. He had to undertake a bigger share of work, but he also had more opportunities for entertainment. The first priority of this period of time was to get ready for adult life. Lads had to learn the techniques of keeping big farm animals. Bachelor life was finished when the young man got married, the time of which varied in different regions. On average, the age when young men and women got married was 22-28.

Young bachelors tended to belong to a gang. The gang had a leader, who was elected for a definite length of time. The so called ‘lieutenants’ were also elected to help maintain order. Some regions the gangs also had more ‘officers’ to handle the wine and the money. The most important responsibility of the lad gangs was to organize and keep dance parties and balls.

A lad became a full member of the association after the initiation procedure. The initiation usually started with a test. E.g. he had to wrestle with another lad appointed by the leader of the gang, had to steal wheat or had to endure a trial of strength. Next the lad goes home and asks for some money from his parents, then he goes to the pub. The other lads are already waiting for him, but they pretend that they did not expect him and drive him away. Then he tries again to come in the pub, but this time he knocks on the door and ask for permission to pay for his initiation and choses his godfather. He stands up, leads him to the table and makes him sit down and pours a glass of wine on his head, and the leader accepts him to be a full member of the group. This is followed by partying until dawn. The initiated lad had the right to smoke, to go to the pub and to spinning, to visit houses with marriageable daughters, to take girls to dance, but polite demeanour was always placed special emphasis on.

Initiations were held at different times in different regions, e.g. on Holy Innocents’ Day, in the carnival season, on the day of the village faire or before Christmas.

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