Men and women separated during church service

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Frank78, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Hello everybody,

    I´ve seen a Catholic church service in rural Bavaria these days. One thing which surprised me, because I´ve only attended Lutheranian church services, is the fact that the women sat on the left side seperated from the men who sat on the right.

    I´m not sure if this is a common practise in the Catholic church either in Germany or world wide.

    I´d like to know how the situation is in your area or country.
  2. pickypuck Senior Member

    Badajoz, Spanish Extremadura
    Extremaduran Spanish
    Wikipedia says that it's common in Eastern Catholic churches. It's not common in Spain at all and I've never seen that in France, Italy, Portugal or the States. But I don't know every city/village of these countries.

  3. pablox

    pablox Member

    Asturias - Spain
    Spanish - Spain
    Im not catholic but i have went to the church many times and i never saw this (in Spain).

    <Moderator note: This is a forum for the exchange of information. Please do not insult others'
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2009
  4. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    In more conservative societies there's a lot more emphasis on separation by gender, I didn't think that Churches did this, because go to church is usually a family occasion where the whole family goes and sits together (at least here in America).
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2009
  5. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
  6. Winter Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Castellano - Argentina
    I’ve never seen that in Argentina, in Catholic church women and men sit together here.
  7. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    It was common in the olden times, and then only in more conservative, rural parishes.
    Where I grew up (rural Upper Austria) men and women never were separated strictly as far as I can remember (early 1970ies) but there was probably a 60%/40% balance of women (left) and men (right side): that is, older people tended to separate to left and right.

    I can't speak for earlier times, probably it was more common in the 19th century to separate men and women in Austria as well as Bavaria.
    There's some information about this in the www - see e. g. this German discussion about Sitzordnung, and also this site (again, in German) about the church in Weilburg/Lahn where people not only were separated by gender but also by social class - which was quite usual in former times.
  8. mirx Banned

    Mennonites do sit separately in my part of Mexico. Catholics, Evangelicals, Anglicans or Baptists don't. I have no experience with other creeds.
  9. SDLX Master

    SDLX Master Senior Member

    Lima, Peru
    Spanish - Peru
    The gender separation in the seating chart at the mass does not affect the Catholic community, and neither it affects the most of the evangelic creed in Peru; incidentally, I have seen some evangelic services on TV where men sit on one side and women on the other, but the church following that practice is not exactly a well-known creed among evangelic followers, but rather a newer group. I even took the time to send an e-mail to that congregation asking about it and the reply I received was they do it to prevent male-female contact at service for fear of inciting sin.
  10. ampurdan

    ampurdan Senior Member

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    I've found this quote from the Church Father Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century CE), venerated as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church:

    "Let men be with men, and women with women. For now I need the example of Noah’s ark: in which were Noah and his sons, and his wife and his sons’ wives. (...) If the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women : lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction. Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. Further, let the men when sitting have a useful book; and let one read, and another listen: and if there be no book, let one pray, and another speak something useful. And again let the party of young women sit together in like manner, either singing or reading quietly, so that their lips speak, but others’ ears catch not the sound: for I suffer not a woman to speak in the Church" (Protocatechesis, 14, NPNF, s. 2, v.7).

    This last peeve was shared with Paul or someone using his name (1 Corinthians 14:33).

    I don't know if Cyril was introducing a new practice or just admonishing people against neglecting older customs. Truth is that it was very common for different sexes in the Middle Ages to be separated in Churches.
  11. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    I have never heard of Catholics in the US being separated during mass. Among Amish and the more conservative Mennonite and Brethren groups in the US, it's commonly done, and while it's not common among Conservative Quakers anymore, I do know one group that still observes it.

    The reasoning that I've heard includes that it removes a distraction from those of an age to have hormones running wild :D, helps those attending alone not to feel so separate or lonely as when everyone else is sitting with their families, helps develop deeper relationships with other people since nobody can just stick to their comfort zone with their own family, and for those churches that practice the Holy Kiss, it means no improprieties there.
  12. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    Well as my other fellows countrymen have wrote, it's not a common practice in Mexican Catholic churches.

    Sometimes (and only sometimes) when a wedding it's celebrated, groom's family sit on the left side and and bride's family on the right side, because this' the way the bride and groom sit on front of the altar.

    But in every sunday mass or at the daily one it's normal you sit around your family or whoever you were joined to the mass
  13. Awwal12

    Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    In Russian Orthodox church men and women stand together (there are no seats in Orthodox temples). I am sorry, but I have no info about Catholic churches in Russia.
  14. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    This used to be common practice in Catholic churches in Ireland, or at least where I lived, up until the 70s at least. Even through the 80s there was a de facto women's and men's side which older people would adhere to.
  15. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    And What about today, Elders had lost the habit???
  16. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I was brought to church fairly regularly when I was small (1990's) and there was no division that I ever noticed. I'm sure it's still the same today.
  17. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    Have you lived in Dublin (or near of) by this time?

    Because maybe pickarooney lived in a smaller town or far away form the capital, and things were different. I think Capitals always go a step forward than other towns in the same country.
  18. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Quite possible. In any case, as regards Dublin churches, there is no division between the sexes and I don't think there has been for a very long time.
  19. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    In the Czech republic and Hungary (before WW II when people were allowed to go to church) it was really common to separate women and men and not only in Catholic churches.
  20. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    Here in Brazil, I have never seen it neither in Protestant, mainly Presbiterian, which I attend, and Catholic, which I used to attend, services. Couples sometimes even exchange some affection gestures, as hugs, during the service, with respect, of course =).

    Good bye.:
  21. spohreis Senior Member


    The same happened here in Brazil with some people who came from German in the end of 1800 and beginning of 1900. My wife belongs to that community, and even today, some couples sit separated in the church.
  22. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    Sorry, just to clarify, Is your wife catholic? Or another christian religion, I think I get lost in the conversation
  23. spohreis Senior Member

  24. Schmizzkazz

    Schmizzkazz Senior Member

    Badischer Schwarzwald
    German - Southern German
    It is no longer a general practise in German Catholic churches.

    On the other hand, it used to be a Protestant practise, too.
  25. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    As a Catholic in Russia, I may say that men and women aren't separated during Mass. I've never even heard of such a practice.
  26. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    The Catholic church in Belgium (and I can include France) separated men and women during Mass till the Council Vatican II (1962-1965). Now it is still possible to see such practice but only in some traditionnalist communities (who also continue to say the Mass in Latin).
  27. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    In Islamic and Orthodox Jewish services there is gender separation as well.
  28. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    In France at least up to the 1960's it was common in Brittany or in the Basque Country for example where there are galleries set around the nave where the men sat. Perhaps 1968 changed all that.
  29. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    Probably less 1968 than the Council...
  30. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    Oh yes Vatican Council II (No change will worry the tranquility of your christian lives said the Archbishop of Dublin)
  31. Schmizzkazz

    Schmizzkazz Senior Member

    Badischer Schwarzwald
    German - Southern German
    1968 did. It surely did!
  32. Betildus Senior Member

    Chile - Español
    Acá nos sentamos todos juntos, pero nunca he asistido a una mezquita ;)
  33. winegrower Senior Member

    I believe you are referring only to Russian Orthodox churches, because Greek churches have seats alright! Besides it is a common practice for men and women to sit separately, the 1st to the right side the 2nd to the left. Furhermore there's an additional room called "gynaikonites", corrisponding to the aforementioned matronaeum by F11, usually elevated, which is not used very much nowadays.
  34. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Yes, Greek Orthodox Churches have seats, whereas the Orthodox Churches in Russia do not, at least the ones I know about. Russian Orthodox Churches in the US have seats because they usually share the space with another Church, Greek for example. Most people stand anyhow, but women and men stand together.
  35. Leica Senior Member

    I live in Germany but my church is orthodox (serbian) and the seats (there are only few at the sides) are for elderly people and women and men don't stand together.
  36. jsvillar Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Well, of course there has been no segregation in Catholic churches for a long time, and I agree that at the weddings is the only place where you can see something similar, but according to my experience in Spain it is just the opposite of what you say.

    First I have to explain that we don't have bridesmaids or best men, we have a godmother and a godfather. Traditionally, the grooms mother is the godmother, and the brides father is the godfather. So the bride and the groom's mother sit at the left, and the groom and the bride's father sit at the right. In fact they say that the only place where a man can 'politely' walk with a woman at his left is when he takes his daughter to marry, as she has to enter on the left side of the aile. The guests follow the same distribution, bride's to the left and grooms to the right.

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