Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Preserving Our Cultural Heritage

October a Special Month to Honor Our Heritage

Since 2001 Americans have officially observed Family History Month in October. This is the month set aside specially to observe this very important part of our culture. To many, October is a time to decorate with ghosts, skeletons, witches, and all kind of horror characters. The trick or treaters look forward to their special night of celebrating on Halloween.  For others, October means the beginning of fall and cooler weather, the turning of leaves to fall colors, and pumpkin flavored seasonings for their special treat. Then, there is a special day set aside for Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. His landing celebration in the Americas is set aside on October 12.  But to the genealogists and family historians, October is a special time set aside for Family History.

The month of October is a time for us to pay tribute to our cultural heritage. My ancestors were farmers. There is much to be learned from my ancestors and their deep roots as farmers. There are lessons to be learned from the ways our ancestors lived – the trials, traditions, and experiences of their lives. There are stories of lives that we can preserve and share for future generations. Honoring our cultural heritage is an important part of family history.

How will you honor your cultural heritage? How do you want to be remembered? Some ways you can pay tribute is to begin researching a family line. You can do that by choosing  one family line and research that line – maternal or paternal line. Another tribute is to visit a cemetery and take photos of headstones and share those on, or share some family photos with family members. It is important to talk to the eldest family member and get family information. That person may have vital information about the family that you didn’t find while researching your family.  So now is the time to set up an interview with an elderly family member. Do you know about traditions of your family? What traditions does your family have?  Learn about food traditions or other traditions of your grandparents.

Genetic Genealogy is a fast-growing tool being used in genealogical research and family history. A great way to honor your heritage is to share your online family tree if you have DNA tested, and be willing to share family stories or information with new found cousins. Or if you have not DNA tested take the time to consider DNA testing and take the steps to make that a part of your family history. If you have a living male in your surname line have him YDNA tested. Get other family members or relatives on board with autosomal DNA testing, and utilize DNA test results in researching your family.

If your family has not had a family reunion, plan a family reunion. Fall is a good time for reunions since the weather is cooler and the changing of the season is in the air. A family reunion is a great way to get to know your collateral line relatives – cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. Your direct line ancestors are your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Plan to take family stories, photos, memorabilia, or artifacts to the reunion and encourage others to do the same.You will be happy you had this time with family, and who knows this may be the beginning of a family tradition.

Lastly, take time to record some things about your immediate family such as - your husband, your parents, grandparents, or aunts/uncles. What are some special character traits or attributes about your love ones? Write a story about that person sharing those with others.

October is a time when we are reminded to honor our cultural heritage. What is the legacy of your family? What artifacts or heirlooms have been passed down from generation to generation? What traditions have been passed down? What folklore do you know of in your family? How are you preserving your cultural heritage? Are you doing what you can to preserve your family’s heritage for future generations?  

This is the time to start if you aren’t doing your part in preserving your cultural heritage. Future generations will thank you for doing that for them.

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