I happen to really enjoy birthdays. The cards, presents, cake, and most of all, bringing the family together.
Having recently passed a milestone, it got me thinking about how birthdays are celebrated around the world.
Traditionally, in most western cultures, the day is commemorated (as above) with cards, presents and of course the famous song - happy birthday to you. There's also the well established custom of making a wish as you cut the first piece of birthday cake.
Maryland Family Magazine has an article listing some interesting customs from around the world. Some include:
Genealogists think researching our own unique families is real enough!
Of course, genealogists love shows on genealogy, which offer insight into breaking through brick walls. Those shows also allow us to vicariously achieve success along with the celebrity tracking his or her ancestors.
My favorite part of all those shows is how the celebrity always finds a convenient parking place directly in front of every archive he or she visits. That doesn’t happen very often in real life.
If your own family research isn’t quite enough for you, there’s a new book out on reality TV.
June Deery, an associate professor of communication and media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (New York), says in her book, Consuming Reality, that this genre is changing the face of both the entertainment industry and culture – whether we like it or not.
My grandmother always told me to make sure to have a table in the kitchen. “Sit down while you’re doing all that prep work for holidays and family get-togethers,” she admonished. Good advice for saving one’s back and legs! But the table was and is more than a workspace for ethnic specialties.
To tell the truth, I don’t remember what the actual table looked like, as it was always covered with a tablecloth – a nice one for meals or plastic for preparing the amazing things that came out of her oven or those huge pots on the stove.
The kitchen table is where women (and, increasingly, men) historically gathered – and still do, in some cultures - to share the cutting, mincing, chopping, dicing, rolling and more. Together, they shared the tasks while they talked, told jokes, sang songs and, yes, shared family history.
It is – and was - a space for sharing, collaborating and holding heritage close to our hearts.
We're delighted to welcome Karen Hägele to our German team. She replaces Silvia da Silva, who recently went on maternity leave. We wish Silvia much health and happiness and look forward to her return next year. Karen now shares her family story, to which many of us can relate.
Back to my roots: from Brazil to Germany
As a small child, I remember using certain words that my friends didn’t know. For example I called my grandmother Oma and my grandfather Opa. I could count from eins to zehn and my favorite nursery rhyme was Backe, backe Kuchen. At night, I wished my parents Gute Nacht, and at Christmas we ate Stollen (a kind of fruit cake), baked, of course, by my grandmother.
We were the only ones in our neighborhood to have a real Christmas tree with real candles instead of "blinking stuff," as my Granddaddy used to say.
All of that would have been quite normal had I not been born in Brazil.