The Monegasque Cultural Background

Monaco’s culture has strong influences from its neighbors, France, Italy and Spain. With the native Monegasque population making up only about 21 percent of the population, the French actually make up the largest group at 28 percent. This means that French influence is huge. The constitution allows for religious freedom, yet Monaco remains a religious nation. The Roman Catholic Church makes up the largest proportion, with 78 percent of the population subscribing to their beliefs.

Food: Access to fresh, local produce and the sea has led to the development of a local cuisine and appreciation for good food. Monaco has many restaurants, and seafood is featured in many dishes. Daily eating habits reflect a Mediterranean heritage, and both French and Italian influences can be found in the local recipes. Breakfast is very small, but lunch and dinner often have several courses.

Marraige: Not withstanding its status as a cosmopolitan resort, Monegasque society is based on centuries-old traditions. Immediate and extended family are the basic social units. Marriage is considered an important family event and the divorce rate is low, with less than a quarter of marriages ending in divorce. Marriage is an important family event, Church weddings, held according to Roman Catholic traditions, are popular. A civil ceremony, held at the city hall, is also required even when a religious ceremony is organized. Some couples choose only to have the civil ceremony.

Etiquette: Etiquette in Monaco is influenced by the country’s unusual blending of roles as an international tax haven, exclusive resort destination in combination with the Monegasque traditions. The Monegasque are proud of the country’s history and residents strive to maintain the quality of life that exists there. The principality attracts people from a variety of nationalities who are nevertheless united by a high level of personal wealth. The rules of etiquette are much like those found in France with an emphasis on respect for privacy. Discretion and privacy are still emphasized in Monaco.

Religion: Religious Beliefs: Roman Catholicism is the state religion, although freedom of worship is guaranteed by Article 23 of the Constitution. However, 95 percent of the population claims to be Roman Catholic. Most Monegasque are Roman Catholic and the church plays an important role in Monegasque traditions, particularly on feast days and special holidays. Church attendance is not as high as a century ago and it is difficult to estimate the exact number of practicing Catholics.

Secular Celebrations: National Day, 19 November, celebrates Monaco’s independence as a principality. A parade, a thanksgiving Mass held in the cathedral, and special events are organized. Other important celebrations have religious origins. The Feast of Saint Devote, the patron saint of Monaco, is celebrated on 27 January. The festival of Saint John, on 24 June, is another important Monegasque holiday. Religious holidays are celebrated with the closing of businesses, special church services, and traditional customs. The National Committee of Monegasque Traditions, established in 1924, is dedicated to the preservation and revival of Monegasque folk traditions and festivals.