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Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for March 16, 2017 is to write about your heritage. Are you Irish and ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow? Are you Italian or Greek or English? Tell us about your ethnic background and culture and how the traditions of your heritage fit into your lifestyle.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and, while I agree with the sentiment that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, I am not, in fact, Irish. What I am mostly is English but I’m also Swedish and some other things like Welsh and Scottish. My mother was 100% English. Our relatives came over on The Fortune, so the story goes, and the bloodline stayed predominantly English from there on down to my mom. My father was 50% Swedish, 25% English and 25% other stuff. The other stuff, we’re pretty sure, included being Welsh and Scottish and (probably) Native American. You know it’s all mostly family lore and I’ve never really tried to research much of this, just believing the stories that came from my parents and grandparents. As a researcher once told Dale when he was trying to prove that he is a Mayflower descendant – if you look too closely into this you might find out your family story is wrong. It might be better to not know for sure and just go with the legend.

The Swedish and English background I have, though, is not legend and those cultures have definitely been part of our family traditions. Being Swedish is a big deal to us, especially at Christmas time. There’s the meatballs, of course, but also the glogg and the decorations and solstice celebrations. Being English is a bigger deal to me than it is to Dale (although he’s 50/50 English and Swedish) and we celebrate Thanksmas with Christmas crackers but as far as English traditions and culture, well, that’s about it. I think, perhaps more than being English, it’s about being a Yankee. We identify closely with New England heritage and history, that spirit of independence and revolution, growing up eating suppers of baked beans and hot dogs with brown bread on Saturday nights, going to church on Sunday mornings and eating Sunday dinner afterwards, drives to the Cape and swimming in the chilly Atlantic Ocean, bragging about snowstorms and hurricanes, and drinking Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee year round. So, while we recognize our ethnic backgrounds, it’s certainly our regional heritage and traditions that play out on a daily basis.

I’ve actually truly enjoyed thinking about this whole topic and am planning on having a discussion with Dale about his thoughts on all of this too, the differences between culture and ethnicity, the way our parents influenced how we interpret our backgrounds and more. It’s the stuff of great drinks conversation, right?

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. So my question – have you been to England? Sweden? (I want to go to Scandinavia so bad!!) I love learning more about these parts of you! And, I am incredibly glad your dear English Mother married your Swedish Father because I love seeing the red horses and your God Jul photos! XO

  2. I like how you’ve mixed these cultures and heritages and the inclusiveness of it all. Brown bread and meatballs go together, right? My mother dug deep into genealogy, found and visited our Swedish relatives, and now I get to keep in touch with them via facebook.

  3. Haha! Yeah. Grandma always talked about a great uncle who’d done the research and traced back to Sir Francis Drake… but, um, I acquired a copy of his research and it was Sir Barnard Drake… CLOSE (definitely a sailor, but kin?) but no cigar! I still have a soft spot for Sir Francis, tho. 😉

  4. My hubby recently found out that he is a Brewster. As in Rev Brewster, of the Mayflower. We laughed when a friend made a big deal of it b/c my VERY Irish background included both Catholics and Protestants (yes- threats over not attending weddings were the norm) and Dan’s family was Puritan. I knew from our family history that we went back to the late 1600s, early 1700s so i replied “maybe be came on the same boat! Just different cabin accommodations ;)”

  5. We share a lot of common heritage there, Carole! English and Swedish. That’s me. With some good, old Scotch-Canadian thrown in from the other side! (Tom? He’s the Irish one. . . )

  6. I live close to a very active Swedish community and they preserve the heritage and traditions–it’s amazing what programs they have! (New Sweden, Maine)

  7. That’s a great story about Dale’s heritage, as my line goes back to the Mayflower. It seems the genealogy has been done by many so maybe we are, but Ive always been suspect. Overall, I’m a big mix of this and that.

  8. Your post made me wonder if New England has more people with English backgrounds–seems like it would. A huge part of my background is German and Volga Deutsch (Germans who lived on the Volga in Russia and migrated to the US). Most,of my heritage is third or fourth generation Americans.

  9. Thanks for sharing the interesting ways you and Dale celebrate your heritage; I’ve always liked how the Swedes celebrate Christmas.

  10. I love knowing where I “came” from. My mother was born and raised in London. Her dad was from Scotland and mother from England and I still have lots of relatives in jolly ole’ England! I know for sure on her side. On my dad’s side no one has researched to see at what point we came to America, but I’m pretty sure ethnically we’re Irish, Welsh and maybe French based on the last names. My dad’s family are most definitely southern-probably at least 6/7 generations in Georgia. I love that I still live in the area where my dad’s family originated. Most of my cousins still live in the same area too. A handful still in the south and one aunt who is in California. I want to investigate my dad’s side of the family a bit more. My husband shares the Swedish side with you. His grandfather came to WI from Stockholm in the early 1900s. So much fun keeping up with traditions.

  11. Super interesting topic and I love the ethnicity/culture point you raise. My mom is half Swedish and half German – a little bit of that comes out with Christmas baking and Dalah horses, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as what you do. I’m wondering if that has to do with her own childhood (bad memories) and think that probably plays a role, too, with how we live out our ancestry.

  12. oh the hot dogs and baked beans!
    why why was that a thing in New England? It’s the only thing I didn’t like to eat as a kid.
    And my mom insists that she “mixed it up” all the time. Yup, knockwurst and kielbasa instead of hot dogs. That’s mixing it up. LOL

    Visiting Sweden is definitely on my bucket list.

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