Monday, September 15, 2014

Ancestral Wormhole

I had this thought at Easter, when we were busting out all the Ukrainian dishes, the perhaps I should take a look at some of our ancestral roots and incorporate some of those traditions into our holidays.  Celebrating a Slavic Easter was fun and all, but it lacked the meaning or history than if I were celebrating in a way that perhaps my progenitors had.  I took a gander on FamilySearch to see what I could discover.

My family has been in this country for a good while.  I had to go back to my great-great's (average birthdate of 1836) to find someplace other than the U.S. of A.  As it turns out, I am 1/16 German, 2/16 Scottish, 2/16 Welsh, 5/16 English, and 6/16 American/Canadian.  (I feel so very white with that sort of list, but it is what it is.)  However, if I thought my family had been around awhile, they have nothing on Mr. F.'s family.  I kept going farther and farther back on his family tree waiting for a birthplace other than the states (or territories, or colonies, or British America) to be mentioned.  It wasn't until that I hit the early 1600's that there started to be another countries listed as birthplace.  (Because, you know, the colonies weren't even founded until 1607 at the earliest so...).  And yeah, I have a line or two like that, but I was finding hard pressed to find a line that wasn't like that on his, the show-off.

So this begs the question, does it even make sense to embrace your roots and celebrate the traditions of your ancestors if said ancestors haven't lived anyplace but here for 400 years?  Mr. F. says this is why he always makes a case for Thanksgiving--it being a true American holiday.  It would be interesting to see if we could discover some family names who came over on the Mayflower or other ships.  This could add some context to the Thanksgiving day dialogue.  Already, I have discovered an Anna Rolfe on Mr. F.'s side.  She was a niece to John Rolf--the man who introduced tobacco to the Virginia company and married Pocahontas.  Or, perhaps a better example, would be a Quaker on my side of the family who came over for religious freedom.  However, I am still dissatisfied.  Isn't there some early colonist tradition that has since gone out of fashion that I could revive?  (Holding witch hunts maybe?  Wearing scarlet letters?)

I can, I think, in good conscience, incorporate my family's British Isle traditions into ours since it has been only a mere 150 years since their departure.  For Christmas, I have the following list:

Scotland: shortbread
German: nutcrackers, gingerbread houses, advent calendar, stollen and platchen on first day of Advent, Christmas tree.  (Basically, everything related to Christmas.  I have this one covered.)
Wales: toffee making Christmas Eve, wassail
England: mince pies, Christmas crackers, christmas pudding

We have a recipe for plum pudding that we grew up making all the time at Christmas.  I will have to pull that out and adapt to make gluten-free.  (I can't see that turning out wrong.  Ha ha ha.)  I am also really interested in the idea of Christmas crackers, mainly because I think it will be fun wearing the paper hats during dinner.

What about you, dear reader?  Do you embrace family traditions?  Do you think there is any value in celebrating your heritage?  At what point does it become moot?

1 comment:

Feisty Harriet said...

Honestly? I pick traditions that I like, regardless of the holiday or country/culture of origin, and incorporate them however I like because I'm an equal opportunity like that, I guess. :)



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