Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is your heritage important to you?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26789points) June 2nd, 2010

How much do you care about the culture of your ancestors? Traditions, language, food… which aspects are important to you? Why or why not?

Are you (and/or your family) more “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”?

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57 Answers

jazmina88's avatar

definitely…family morals, health…all bring you to who you are today

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve always been fascinated by my ancestors. I’ve spent hours thinking about their lives, situations and what made them pull up roots and make a go of it on another continent. The traditions, language and food don’t interest me as much as imagining who they were.

CMaz's avatar

Ancestry is interesting and fun.
But, I am where I come from.

My Grandparents came from Italy.

I am an American.

Silhouette's avatar

Somewhat, I always go to Octoberfest and I love Rye bread.

marinelife's avatar

I have an interest in it, but it does not define me. I live my life according to who I am today and where I am today.

drClaw's avatar

Very much so and carrying on our traditions is something that I fully plan on passing along to my children. With America being the “melting pot” I think it is important to place value in heritage, too often (in the US particularly) people have no idea where they came from or how they got here and tend to glom on to whatever culture or tradition seems best at the time.

Don’t get me wrong I think exploring other cultures and ways of life are great, but there is a primal need for tradition and cultural direction and not everyone can create these things in their own lives. In other words your kids might look like these guys… one two

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t care that much, the food is too unhealthy lol. I don’t see the point of celebrating heritage in my opinion, I prefer to experience multiple walks of life.

BoBo1946's avatar

yes, wish i knew more about my anchestry. Would like to pass that information down. Someday, going to work on that…would be a good project!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@drClaw I’m inclined to agree with you.. but then I come from a more “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” family, so to speak. We’re Ukrainian (not Greek), but I find it easy to relate to that movie. Coming from a very traditional and culturally strong family in a very American area can be challenging sometimes. Makes me curious to hear from both sides.

BoBo1946's avatar

actually, that would be very important to make sure I’m not related to @Silhouette !

partyparty's avatar

Vitally important to me. British (Irish) ancestors. I have researched my family as far as I am able. West coast of Ireland catholic family, although I am not catholic myself. Have many photos – they all have dark hair, blue eyes and freckles as have I.
A hard working traditional large family. I beleive I have interited those traits and am what I am today because of my ancestors.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah it is interesting and history gives context to the present;
the history of your blood gives context to your own existence.

And I consider most things to be meaningless without context.


btw I’m something like: ½ English, ¼ Indian, ⅛ Irish, ⅛ Scottish

I could only be more British if I had a bit of Kenyan as well!

A proud son of the Empire… ☺☀☻

Silhouette's avatar

@BoBo1946 Why we’s kissin cousins. Mwuah!

meagan's avatar

Absolutely. Its apart of who I am. Without these people, I wouldn’t be here. They should be honored.

Cruiser's avatar

My heritage has played a big role in shaping my personal identity of my youth but plays a much smaller role in my adult life as I prefer to just be me. But the traditions of my varied heritages are both nostalgic and enjoyable to participate in especially the holiday parts, customs and especially the recipes of them. Heritage is about as hard to avoid as your skin color as an example is my name which is about as German sounding as it can get which almost automatically will associate me with Germany despite 3 other nationalities I have in my blood.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It’s a sore spot with me, personally. I don’t know much about any of my ancestries, but that’s because my maternal bio family is severely dysfunctional and no one talked about anything, ever, for one, and I do not know anything my father except that he was most likely Italian, for the other.

There wasn’t any investment on being anything in my family, nor did anyone answer questions I had about our ancestry or family history; indeed, relatives would get angry, so I stopped asking. It’s not important enough to me since I don’t have kids to pass anything on to. I wouldn’t even know what to pass on if I did, since anything I know about the ethnic groups I was born into have come from books and not experience.

Strauss's avatar

I am fortunate to have inherited many family stories. I can trace my heritage back 3 or 4 generations, and I can see the same number of generations of children in the family. I know something personal about each of my direct line of ancestors. We have family traditions, but more so, family stories that have been handed down. Some were a sore spot, like the great uncle that was supposedly hung for horse theft. Others are epic, like my grandma’s trip from the “old country”, or my grandfathers’ dealings with the labor movement.

BoBo1946's avatar

@aprilsimnel think most famlies are that way today! Sign of the times!

ragingloli's avatar

Not really, no. Then again, I am a mongrel and do not have a real heritage.

wilma's avatar

Yes, my heritage is very important to me.
The foods, the lore, the celebrations, the language.
I am and always will be an American, that is my priority, but the history and ethnicity of my parents has helped to impart flavor and interest, to my life. I like knowing where I came from.

The_Idler's avatar

@ragingloli now, now. that’s not the way to look at it =P

think of it as having lots more heritages…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t care for my heritage, whatsoever – I have no need in my life for random attachments like that. I am Armenian and Russian, by birth…and while I know a lot about both cultures, they don’t speak to me. I have lived here in the U.S. since I was 11 but rarely identify as an American.

The_Idler's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir so… what kind of culture and lifestyle do you have?

Do your diet, music taste, clothing, worldview, morals, principles and general attitude towards life identify you as something other than American, Russian or Armenian?

Or do you mean you live as an American, but identify as Armenian-Russian, despite not caring for the associated culture/lifestyle.

Blackberry's avatar

Is it possible for some to live by various cultures? It’s hard classify someone by culture if they aren’t completely immersed in it. I could be black, but follow a japanese culture and custom, right? I am not interested in my culture or heritage for this reason. I listen to various music, eat different foods etc.

partyparty's avatar

@wilma Yes I think it is good to know ‘who you are’ don’t you think?

The_Idler's avatar

@Blackberry Yeah, but I just wondered why @Simone_De_Beauvoir wouldn’t identify as American.

Either because there is some other unmentioned lifestyle/culture (I’m curious), or the situation is as in my final sentence…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@The_Idler I lead a lifestyle that is a mix, I suppose. Many of my views and lifestyle choices are not that of mainstream America. When asked, I say I’m Russian but it sounds hollow, to me. Same with saying I’m American.

Blackberry's avatar

Can we coin the phrase ‘Omnicultural’ lol?

The_Idler's avatar


Blackberry's avatar

Oh, darn lol.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m sure most Americans live a multicultural lifestyle…. it would be really difficult not to.

wilma's avatar

Yes @partyparty I do.
@TheOnlyNeffie I know that I live a varied, you might say multicultural, lifestyle, and I like it that way.

Blackberry's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Indeed, that’s why it must be hard for me to understand living such a rigid lifestyle such as knowing only one avenue of life predetermined by something trivial such as what culture one just happened to be born into.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Blackberry I’m not sure many Americans know what that is like. We are all submerged in a multicultural society. I wouldn’t consider my family rigid, though we honor traditions and speak the language of my grandparents and other ancestors – we are certainly American. We also embrace and have interest in a multitude of other cultures. I don’t mean to insinuate that because we are Ukrainian we have no respect or interest in other cultures, it’s just something that is important for us to preserve as a family. A history to pass on. I almost get the impression that you find it restrictive? Maybe I am misunderstanding you.

YARNLADY's avatar

I enjoy reading about the history of my ancestors, and how they lived, but it isn’t really a basic part of my own life.

Your_Majesty's avatar

No,they’re definitely the least important thing for me. I’m a human and rational person NOT a branch from a tree(ancient people). I make my own root and live with it. But as @YARNLADY said,I like to know about their history not to follow it.

Blackberry's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Yeah that’s what it seems like. Although of course the people following it wouldn’t think that way or they wouldn’t do it.

lillycoyote's avatar

My ethnic heritage? Not really. I’m 3rd generation, I guess it is German-American on my mother’s side and Scotch-Irish-English on my dad’s side, though things on his side are a little murky. It just doesn’t mean that much to me. But I am proud of my West Virginia heritage. My dad, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, great aunts and uncles were all from West Virginia and I am proud that that is a part of me, or at least a part of them. The German thing really doesn’t do much for me.

mattbrowne's avatar

We can only understand other cultures, if we understand our own culture.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne That statement borders on meaninglessness, for me.

Plone3000's avatar

Im Scotch Irish, and we always get slamed by radical full blood Cathlic Irish saying “There’s no such thing as a Scotish Irish”. I find this very offensive, but am still proud of my heritage because many people want or pretend to be Irish.

I went to Ireland last spring break and most of there urban population are immigrants(mostly Asian or African). My frends joked around saying “wares all the Irish people?” and pointing to me saying “You look like the most Irish person here!”

At my prom I wore a Black Watch tartan vest and my Per Ardua Scotch-Irish pin.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – It might sound obvious to you, but it’s not. I’ve read many books on cross-cultural studies and cross-cultural competence. At our company I’ve also organized trainings and workshops (for example when we work with software companies from India). Believe me, many people are not aware of the particularities of their own culture. It’s a bit like native speakers of a language asked to explain its grammar. Experts will tell you that we can only understand other cultures, if we understand our own culture. This is not meaningless at all.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir and @mattbrowne I think it might be the other way around, well maybe not entirely one way or the other, maybe bother. I think maybe we can only understand our own culture if we understand other cultures. It is important to understand that there are universals, things that all off us, all around the world, share and have in common and that some things that seem foreign or odd to us are merely different ways doing and/or expressing the same thing, the same human need or desire or is a behavior or institution that serves the same purpose.

mattbrowne's avatar

@lillycoyote – Many people who leave their country for the very first time realize stuff about their own country which they have never noticed before or simply took for granted. Knowledge about ones own culture is very complex. It’s not about hamburgers or going fishing.

Cultural dimensions is one model to understand differences, see for example

One indicator is called Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) which deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth; ‘there can only be one Truth and we have it’. People in uncertainty avoiding countries are also more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy. The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures, are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and on the philosophical and religious level they are relativist and allow many currents to flow side by side. People within these cultures are more phlegmatic and contemplative, and not expected by their environment to express emotions.

Many cross-country projects or even acquisitions and mergers fail because corporate managers don’t understand the culture of their own country and think it’s enough to learn about the food of the foreign country.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mattbrowne You know I respect and adore you but I have a B.A. in Anthropology and while it may be old and a tad dusty I too know a bit about these things. :)

mattbrowne's avatar

@lillycoyote – Of course you do. Sorry, I think part of my reply was still a response to Simone’s “that statement borders on meaninglessness” comment. Yes, there are many universals and they are a huge opportunity. I apologize. I should have written @Simone_De_Beauvoir and @lillycoyote.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mattbrowne I didn’t mean to be snippy but the comment seemed a little patronizing. Though I may just be kind of sensitive to these things, these days, for some reason.

mattbrowne's avatar

@lillycoyote – No, no, you were right. It was my mistake. I was a bit upset, because of Simone’s harsh comment.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mattbrowne Yes, she can be that way, but she is our Simone, after all, and we love her. :)

mattbrowne's avatar

@lillycoyote – Yes, we do :-)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne I think the only thing we need to understand is that we live in a culture as well and to not take anything for an inherent truth. We don’t have to understand our culture or that of others – the least we can do is not judge anyone’s practices through our lenses.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t see the downside in understanding a culture. ANY culture.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – It’s not about judging at all. We might not have to understand our culture or that of others if we never leave our village.

Try asking an Indian IT developer, does your software work? He or she will always answer: yes. Now if you ask, how can I support you to make the software work even better, he or she will point out specific parts of the software that need to be dealt with. Just a small example.

German IT developers would answer yes or no. And ‘no’ is seen as a sign of strength and trust.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne No, I agree with all that, I was talking about something else.

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