>At 11:43 PM 12/15/96 UT, you wrote:
>>It always seems to me that the US citizens on this list aren't comfortable
>>with being American. They are desperately seeking an alternative "ethnicity"
>>and would be prefer to be "Scots" or "Irish" - often with less claim than I
>>have myself! It is sad (and a little worrying) that the people of a great
>>nation are so anxious to deny their nationality.
Bret Willis wrote:
>Pardon me for interrupting (I was going to just lurk on this list, but
>thought I might offer a bit of explanation of the American interest in
>I'm not so sure that "the people of a great nation are so anxious to deny
>their nationality" On the contrary, I think we are proud to call ourselves
>American. However, it seems that in this great melting pot, there are a
>large number of us who find it next to impossible to trace our ancestory.
>There ARE many people who have obvious roots (hopefully this won't offend
>anyone due to racial categorization) -> people of Italian descent, African
>descent, Irish descent, Scottish, et cetera. But a large number of us
>feel left out. We don't know who our ancestors were. Records weren't kept
>properly, or were lost. So, we are stuck with a desire to find out who we
>are, but in many cases know that will be impossible to ever prove/disprove.
> How lucky you must be to actually know your heritage.
>True Americans are very happy with the fact that our nation consists of
>many races/religions, and a pride in acknowledgement of these various
>affiliations is actually a tribute to our American nationality.
>Anyway, hope I haven't offended anyone, just got a little hyped up after
>watching "Riverdance" on PBS. It's been on about 8 times in the last two
>weeks (it's pledge drive month, so they keep replaying the good shows!)
>Best Regards, Brett Willis (an American of unknown ancestory)
Dear Brett, of "unknown ancestry:"
Just a reinforcement from another American. Totally agree with you -- but
must mention that the USA is so vast, there is definite regionalism
associated with one's American heritage. I am a Southern American, and we
Southerners believe our connection to our REGIONAL heritage is perhaps
stronger than that of any other group in the USA, because of shared history
and the tendency of Southerners to stay in the South -- a somewhat isolated
phenomenon. Americans are known for their mobility. So, for others around
the world who are trying to understand the American mentality, let me
assure you that there is no one culture in the USA, and regionalism does
play a definite part in how groups of people view themselves. Family ties
define one's culture as does one's religious affiliations. Customs are
those passed through your family and that is largely determined by
religious beliefs and the region in which you live.
For example, weddings, and the pre- and post- festivities associated with
weddings, follow very different customs depending on what part of the
country you live (and your religious practices). On a personal note, I was
surprised to find that it is a custom in St. Louis, Missouri, for the
family and friends of the newly married couple to gather on the day after
the wedding , as the mother of the Bride opens any presents delivered by
guests attending the wedding the day before. It is customary to pass the
gifts amongst the guests and then the Bride's family (or a close friend)
hosts a brunch for everyone in attendance. This is unheard of in the
South, yet it is an expected ritual in St. Louis. Also, most Southern
weddings do not include a full "sitdown" dinner as part of the
post-weddding festivities. In the South, there is a reception after the
wedding, and it is not unusual for there to be no alcoholic beverages
served. In most of the rest of the USA, alcohol in some form, is available
at these receptions (and in some regions, a "cash bar" is considered
acceptable, whereas in other areas, this would be considered extremely
gauche and unacceptable). So, it depends on the REGION where you are
raised; the religious background of the family; and the socio-economic
status you have attained as to what is acceptable or not.
There is no one "right way" or "wrong way" for most customs in the USA.
Hope this wasn't too boring,