A wedding is a momentous occasion that warrants special family traditions. Each family has its unique way of making the event unforgettable. Many find a way to link the event to the past, to honor and recognize their ancestors who made them who they are. Some pass down jewelry from generation to generation to be worn by the bride. Others pass down meaningful heirlooms.
In my family, we have a prayer book that has been passed down to each bride since the early 1900s. It has weathered well over the years - considering how old it is - and how far it has traveled. Although worn and, in some places, unreadable, it doesn't matter. Many brides on my mother's side of the family have written their names and wedding date on the front page, just moments before walking down the aisle and beginning a new stage of life.
I remember the unbelievable feeling of belonging as I looked over the signatures of my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and aunts from their wedding days, and then added my own name. To realize that I was part of a tradition established so many generations ago to commemorate this important life event eased my pre-wedding jitters. I felt honored to be included in the lineage of those women who came before me. They may have lived their lives in different generations, but they each had similar hopes and dreams on the day of their weddings. I hope to have my children sign the same book and to continue the tradition for future generations.
Abigail Kingston, a young woman from Pennsylvania, was recently in the news for deciding to wear a family wedding gown handed down for 120 years! Her great-great-grandmother Mary was the first bride to wear the Victorian-era satin gown in 1895, and it has been worn a total of 10 times to date.
Passed down from generation to generation, often with a background story, they help preserve our heritage for future generations. We recently wrote about bizarre places to find family heirlooms.
I grew up in a home where many pieces of furniture once belonged to my great-grandmother. I thought that it was strange to have such antique furniture in our modern home but, as I grew older, I came to appreciate their value and the importance of safeguarding pieces that once belonged to the matriarch of our large family. Little did I know that my family was not unique and that furniture is commonly passed down in families and cherished for generations.
Throughout October, we celebrated Family History Month, and brought you exciting competitions, webinars and tips to enhance your family history research.
We wrapped up our competitions last week by asking you to tell us about your family history finds to win a free PremiumPlus and data subscription.
We want to thank everyone who submitted meaningful stories and anecdotes about their precious family heirlooms.
Congratulations to our winner, Liz Zito, who wrote the following:
My Dad died when I was four, in 1965. In recent years I have become obsessed with trying to find out more about his life, his family in Italy and his loves. The youngest of nine, many of my siblings had told me that he loved to play the round-backed mandolin that had been passed down to my brother. I had seen it once but have no memories of my father playing it, holding it. In April last year, I asked my brother if I could visit and take photos of it and when I arrived, he handed it to me telling me I could keep it. I was so grateful. I've since found out that my father had sponsored an Italian friend to come to Australia from Italy and this gent had brought the mandolin for my father as a thank you gift. My plan is to get it restrung and to learn to play one of the songs he used to play on it. When I hold it now I wonder how it looked in his arms...whether he strummed it hard or plucked it gently and if it looked tiny against his hands. I often embrace it, closing my eyes and try to feel my father's presence. It's precious to me and the only thing of my father's that I have.
Wouldn't it be exciting to read the diary of an ancestor who recorded his or her daily activities?
Matt Unger, a 40-ish software executive in New York, was handed his grandfather Harry Scheurman’s 1924 diary, written when he was 29 and had been in the US for 11 years. Matt has transcribed each journal entry at his website http://papasdiary.blogspot.com. Scheurman had immigrated from Sniatyn, then in Austro-Hungary.
Matt’s project received coverage in The New York Times.
As we hear more frequently these days, family history researchers are getting bitten by the genealogy bug at ever younger ages. Although Matt was given the pocket-sized diary for a fifth-grade family history project, it wasn't until Thanksgiving 2007 that he examined it closely and decided to transcribe it.
MyHeritage interviewed Matt via email and is happy to offer his comments on this wonderful and very personal project.