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National Roots Day on December 23 gives people a chance to delve into and reflect on their family’s heritage, history, and ancestry. The holiday season is the perfect time to learn about your ancestors and collect family information. There is always that one family member who has taken on the role of the family historian and eagerly shares memories and stories around the dinner table. While it is a tedious process (if you decide to really dig deep), it is worth tracing your lineage. You may be related to Elvis Presley for all you know, or someone who was part of an important historical event.
History of National Roots Day
Family comes first, and the Christmas season is the ideal time for a traditional holiday like Roots Day, illustrating the significance of family, especially during these times. The festive season is the one time of year in which the whole family comes together, so it is only fitting that ancestral heritage is celebrated during this period. Although the exact origin of this day is unknown, Roots Day has been around for more than 40 years.
The United States of America has welcomed immigrants from all over the world. These settlers changed their names and adopted the local cuisine and customs, just like any other blue-blooded American. Such is the diversity, that the nation has been referred to as a melting pot of cultural assimilation. But as multiculturalism is becoming more and more widespread, we’ll naturally have an interest in our past.
As we learn about our family heritage, we often understand our parents and grandparents better, and even ourselves. National Roots Day celebrates this impulse to dig deeper into our ancestry.
On this day, memories are shared and assembled for a better understanding of our predecessors and their lives. Before these memories fade and the details start to get fuzzy, it is better to have them assembled and linked. The participation of every generation is encouraged in discovering the struggles and accomplishments of our families’ lineages. Stories of each generation whose efforts, successes, and failures have all contributed to shaping us as a person should be documented.
National Roots Day timeline
Immigration to the US peaks, with 1.3 million settlers entering through Ellis Island alone.
After the U.S. War of 1812 against Britain, there is an explosion of immigration from Western Europe to the US.
Charles II of Spain is born, the result of 16 generations of inbreeding, which leads him to suffer from many physical disabilities.
Last names or surnames are not in use until the 11th Century, starting in Europe.
National Roots Day FAQs
When did ancestry.com start?
Starting from a compact-disc version and evolving into an online resource, ancestry.com was established in 1996.
How do I look up my ancestors for free?
Although not as thorough, there are a number of directories available online like RootsWeb and FamilySearch, for looking up your ancestors for free.
Why is family important?
From the time we are born, our family is the most integral and important influence in the formation of our personality and habits. Our parents and siblings are our first teachers and role models, laying the foundation for our behaviors and traits.
National Roots Day Activities
Make a family tree
Sirius Black’s family tree at 12 Grimmauld Place is the inspiration here. Ok, not really, but you get the idea. Collect as much information as you can from your grandparents, parents, and uncles and aunts, and create an interlinked family tree. You can even have one professionally made to be displayed.
Share stories with the young ones
Just like Ted Mosby made his kids sit and listen to how he met their mother, get the youngsters of the family together and fill them in on stories, not only of how grandpa met grandma, but also any significant historical events your family was involved in.
Research through a service
If your family findings are not sufficient or you’d like to really go into the nitty-gritty, make use of an ancestry service like ancestry.com where you can find everything you need to know about your genealogy.
5 Facts About Genealogy.
There are four groups of surnames
Surnames are based on occupation, places or geographical locations, appearances or nicknames, or they are patronymic — derived from the name of a father or male ancestor.
An outbred family tree
Tracing back eight generations, the majority of people will have an astounding 256 ancestors
It’s in the name
Immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island didn’t have their names changed. If the spelling of your surname was changed, it was shortened by your ancestor or translated into English.
Symbols on headstones
You must have seen symbols on some headstones in cemeteries. Most of them have meanings and are related to the family that the deceased person belonged to.
If you ever research family members who served in World Wars, try inputting different birthdates. Ages were often exaggerated to meet the enlistment requirements.
Why We Love National Roots Day
Honoring your family name and history
Your family has come a long way. There have been so many disputes fought, and great work done by our ancestors. It will truly be a shame if these events are lost to the sands of time and not preserved for future generations to look back on and learn from.
A chance for self-reflection
As we learn more about our lineage, we also discover more about ourselves and understand our traits and habits better. It is a wonderful experience to be able to reflect on our families and how their lives eventually shaped ours.
Bridging cultural differences
Although family trees and roots are personal, they are extended to other cultures. Perhaps a person’s origins are completely different from who they are today. Delving into our roots fosters respect and appreciation for different cultures and nations.
National Roots Day dates