The Official Kuġin-O-Meter
It's imporant to know how many times removed someone is before requesting a favour.
Here in Malta we are heavily in the habit of making sure that everything that goes down is, in some way, directly affecting or a result of our existence. The same can be said for family members, and if you're ever out with a Maltese person it won't take long for them to mention someone who's their 'cousin'.
So we've compiled a comprehensive list of different types of cousins you may encounter.
Let's start with the two most obvious ones:
1. "We're cousins!"
The child of your aunt and/or uncle. Your parents are siblings, therefore you are cousins. Simple.
2. "X'għandna kuġin?"
You are in no way, shape or form related. You are however, so close you're basically family, or so distant they've forgotten your name. It could go either way really.
And so begin the intricacies:
3. "They're like... my second cousins"
They're somehow related to you, either your mother's cousins or your nannu's. Either way... they're close enough.
4. "They're like... my third cousins"
There's a solid 90% chance they're not actually your third cousin, it's just a distant-but-still-close title you choose for them. Still, if you traced your family lines back you'd see that you are actually related. Score!
5. "Mhux ovja I know her! She's my cousin!"
Usually said after an awkward introduction with someone you've met once at a Christmas lunch five years ago. They're most likely the children of a step aunt who married into your family and most certainly, not your real cousin.
6. "I had a cousin who..."
When you want to show empathy about something, without committing to having too much information on the subject, dig deep into your memory of every extended family member you've had to serve Baileys after an awkward dinner and if someone ticks the box currently being discussed - they're suddenly promoted to 'cousin'.
7. "Miss, you know we're cousins?!"
Every generation at school had a group of 5 people who looked nothing alike, had completely different backgrounds and yet were inexplicably all 'cousins'.
8. "Ija, I can ask her - I think we're cousins..."
This includes: partners of actual cousins, distant relations constantly invited to New Year's lunch and that person you grew up believing was related to you but it turns out that "aunty" was just a title of respect not family-earned.
Bonus: "Ah, Ira Losco? We're cousins ta!"
Her buznannu and my buznanna's cousin were married, so I'm going to be spending Christmas lunch at theirs.