52 Ancestors Week 50: Tradition

+16 votes

Time for the next 52 Ancestors challenge!

Please 52 Ancestors and 52 Photos sharing challenge badgesshare with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

This is the time of year when many families celebrate various traditions that they have. Several days from now, I'll serve pork chops and sauerkraut, the traditional New Year's Day dinner on both my paternal and maternal lines. Do you know the origin of any of your ancestors? Or, taken another way, what's a genealogy tradition in you family that you've had to dispute (or proven)?

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
I've been counting down for several weeks now. Only two more weeks!!!!

35 Answers

+17 votes

It has been a tradition in my family to serve turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas stuffed with bread and oysters. When I married my husband in 1966, he asked what in the world is in this stuffing. I told him oysters, and he had certainly not been eating oysters in dressing, so that was the end of the oysters. This subject came up again this year along with the Food and Drug Administration saying to cook the dressing/stuffing on the side and not in the turkey. In doing research, I found this interesting article in What's Cooking America about the history of oyster dressing.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (138k points)
Interesting; I've never tried it before but I'd sure love to try.
SJ, it really is good, since the oysters add more favor. Thank you for your nice comment.
We always used to have the Christmas turkey with stuffing inside the cavity of the bird.  This was by far the nicest side dish on Christmas Day.  Sadly while I was still young (so many years ago now lol) the British food advice was also that this could lead to food poisoning so that particular family tradition was discontinued.
Linda, that is interesting that stuffing the turkey was an issue years ago. I seems to be a new issue where I live, and I know several families in my town that still stuff their turkeys. I do worry about food poising. My husband had a friend, deceased now, that ran a canning company, and he knew a great deal about food poisoning. He said that often people think that they have a stomach flu, but it was actually caused by what they ate.
+13 votes

Traditional recipes and stories have been passed down in my family for several generations. Only the best recipes have survived four or more generations, and some of the stories of our ancestors. An interesting tradition of our ancestors comes from my husband's grandfather. Albert Frohberger was out in his fields with his young grandson when he asked the boy what he was learning in school. Young Bill talked about history of our calendars affected by astronomy observations. Albert replied with a long recitation of ancestors leading back to the time when the Julian calendar was adopted in the Prussian empire. People were upset about the appearance of losing a few days of their lives with adoption of the new calendar. Like most changes, where the church held most power it went smoothly, where its power was weakest the change was refused. Albert was able to name and give Bill the lineage of an ancestor who had been lamed in riots in Berlin where conflict led to riots. That would have been about 1700. Alberta would not speak of the past with his family, hoping to integrate them into the new world better. Bill did not remember the details, and none of the rest of the family had heard this story. Will we ever be able to prove or disprove the connection? Maybe not, but it is a teaser to Bill to this day.

by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 3 (39k points)
+13 votes
It has been a tradition in my family that we gather together at my folks for a Christmas Eve dinner.  We usually have Prime Rib or Roast Beef (not turkey).  This tradition has been harder to maintain as we all gotten older and family members have passed away.  This Christmas Eve could very well be the last one we share, you just never know.  Life!
by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (179k points)
+15 votes

I don't come from a large family. My father was from London and mother was from the West Midlands and after they married they moved to a New Town far from any relatives so I had little knowledge or contact with my wider family as a child. I saw my father's family and my mother's family once a year as a child and that was all the wider family I knew. We didn't have multi-generation family gatherings.
I cannot recall any traditions passed down from previous generations and I don't think they would have lasted. My father was very much of an inquiring scientific mind and I have inherited that trait so just following tradition or accepting knowledge passed down without questioning whether it is correct would not fit in our world.
This has definitely influenced my approach to genealogy.
I have found far too many families in WikiTree, FamilySearch and other sites where people have created profiles based on family knowledge or a genealogy book which is based on tradition without any supporting primary sources. I always try to do the due diligence and use the currently available source records to validate what has been written and I often find errors. I am sure they are unintentional but unfortunately errors have a habit of propagating.
So in my view tradition in genealogy is bunk. The only thing that matters is hard evidence (primary sources) and even they are not guaranteed to be true so skill and judgement are required to sort the wheat from the chaff.
by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (38.8k points)
Go Ray!! Document! Document! Document! I tend to include the "family stories" in profiles, but they are labeled as such and debunked if they are truly bunk! :)
I would worry that interesting information would be neglected, or maybe written down even by someone not in the family.  I have a 3rd great uncle who loved volunteering at the police station.  He was given a silver star and revolver.  It was documented in the local newspaper.
I am not saying you should ignore family stories. It is important to record them because they add the richness to biographies of ancestors that allows us to view them as real people and not just names and dates.

However, many of us have received unsourced family trees created by family members from memory, many families have stories about their origins, and often one family member might have recorded subjective opinions about other family members and those do not always stand up to scrutiny so those stories should be recorded as opinion not fact.

A newspaper article written at the time of an event is a primary source and can be more reliable than official records. I have seen plenty of official records which contain errors or lies and plenty of gravestones with incorrect dates so just because something looks official that doesn't mean it is correct.

The important thing is to find multiple sources and where there are inconsistencies clearly document why you think one source is correct and another is not.
+16 votes

Rather than write a complicated paragraph, I'll lay this out longitudinaly:

* Great-uncle Arthur became sick while in the Navy in 1924.  He was hospitalized in Los Angeles.
* The family mobilized and moved piecemeal to LA, working odd jobs in order to pay their way there and to help him while he was sick.
* Unfortuantely Uncle Art died.  But his sister Lily fell in love with a nurse who worked at the hospital.  He was from Norway and eventually the couple returned there.
* In the late 1960's my mother went to visit the family in Norway and stayed for a year as an Aupair.  

My mother loved the tradition of the Advent Calendar and she brought the tradition back to America.  She made an advent calendar for each of us and as children we just loved them!  Each is a colorful calender almost a yard (or meter) tall with numbers 1 - 25 and a little ring next to each number.  25 presents are wrapped and tied with string to the little rings.  Each morning beginning on 1 December we would have a small gift and the last one on Christmas day.

My mother made my calendar in the shape of a Green Christmas Tree.  The son of my elder sister inherited my Christmas Tree calendar and he used it for 18 years until he left for college.  It was then given to my daughter who has used it for 4 years.  My Wife made a new calendar for her and my first son now inherited my Christmas Tree Advent Calendar this month.

All this from the sad passing of a great uncle, a love story of my great-aunt, and my Mother's visit to Norway in the '60's.

by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (767k points)
edited by SJ Baty
What a wonderful story for you to tell your children when they are older and so they can pass it on to their own children.  Lovely tradition!
SJ, I know that I would really like your mother. I love that she made each of you an Advent Calendar, and your wife followed her tradition for your son. Thank you for sharing.
+10 votes

Exploring the Christmas Eve traditions in an Italian-American house: https://allroadhaverhill.blogspot.com/2019/12/52-ancestors-week-50-tradition.html

Caution: You may get hungry after reading this. MANGIA!

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (285k points)
+12 votes
Though we got together fairly regularly with my father's family, for some reason on Thanksgiving it was usually only our immediate family -- my parents, sister, two brothers, and me.  But our Thanksgiving tradition remains one of my favorite memories.  It was always the same and it was always nice.  The morning started with the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and my sister and I helping our mom with the beginnings of the big turkey dinner we would share later in the day.  During the day the college football games were on TV and we were all snacking on various things awaiting the big meal.  Finally in the late afternoon we would all sit down to the turkey with all the trimmings -- stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, green bean casserole, jello salad, and I think the kids favorite -- black olives.  After we had all eaten way too much there was still the pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

I think the last time we were all together for this wonderful meal was in 1986 when we four children came from all over the country to be with our parents.  Since then our parents have passed on and the tradition has gone by the way, but the memory is still very dear to me.
by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (600k points)
+15 votes

Traditions change as families change! When my Nana was alive she designated Thanksgiving as HER family holiday. She wanted all her kids home for the big meal. She said they could do Christmas however they wanted, with their inlaws, at home, or at her house. This made it easier on everyone. After she passed, the big Thanksgiving passed with her. Our family tradition includes ravioli for Christmas Eve supper AND includes a drippy candle in an old chianti bottle! The wax buildup is getting spectacular! My aunt has passed but I still make her shrimp linguini salad. My uncles are gone but we tell the same stories of them every year :) And we do stockings! Everyone puts in and on Christmas morning we all take out!  Now that the grands are older and jobs have scattered everyone it’s harder. But whoever is here stuffs on ravioli and waits for the drippy candle wax to hit the tablecloth! 

by Lyn Sara Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 2 (21.7k points)
+11 votes
My mother said they always had pearled onions at home for Thanksgiving.  Home was Southern Vermont, and the traditions there were likely handed down for many generations, as her family was essentially in one town for 8 generations.  I found a culinary article that says the English loved their onions so much that they brought them over on the Mayflower, and can still be found on Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.  Ironically, just this year I proved my mother's Mayflower line.  So, I guess that all checks.  I'm putting it on my menu for Christmas.
by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 2 (27.2k points)
mmmmmmm creamed pearl onions!!! :)
+10 votes
My maternal grandfather being  from Bohemia had to have goose for Christmas dinner; it  took some time for my mom to convert him to eating turkey, fowl that was not native to the old country.
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (721k points)
I once tried making a goose instead of turkey - what a disaster!  My mother-in-law warned that they are much fattier and I need to be careful that the roasting pan doesn't overflow, so I decided to solve that problem by roasting it on a spit over the barbecue grill.  The fat caught fire, "the goose was cooked" is an gross understatement, and the body of the grill was warped out of shape forever.  As to the family - we went to a Chinese restaurant (the only one open other than fast food joints) for Christmas dinner.

Gaile, you have me worried now - we are having goose for a change this year surprise  British weather doesn't lend itself to grilling outdoors in late December so I'll have to take my chances in the regular oven.  I'll be keeping a close eye on it after your comments!

+9 votes
52 Ancestors, 52 Different Surnames

I suppose it's traditional to say that I'm descended from one Christina Karges. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Karges-7 and yet--

I would like to see the original record of her marriage to Henry Michel or Michael.  I would like to know if the marriage occurred in York County, Pennsylvania in 1756 or as another record states, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania on the same day. I would like to know where I found the record years ago from which I assumed her father was Philip Karges.  I searched the published passenger lists (Strassburger & Hinke's Pennsylvania German Pioneers), where I thought I once saw him, and could not find him. It's a tradition now on the internet that Philip was the father of Christina and it all started with me, and now if anyone asks where I got that information, all I can do is shrug and beat my breast.
by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Mach 7 (77.1k points)
+11 votes
Our family tradition has always been alternate Christmas lunch and dinner, consisting of the usual meal fare of the christmas leg ham with chicken, pork and veg, for the main meal, plum pudding, custard and ice-cream for dessert, plums, cherries, etc to snack on and christmas crackers to split, with both sets of maternal and paternal grandparents, and then, back on boxing day for leftovers.
by David Urquhart G2G6 Pilot (129k points)
+13 votes

My family didn’t have a lot of traditions, but there was one thing we could count on every Christmas, so it is a tradition of sorts: every Christmas my father would get out his old 45 record of  Gayla Peevey singing “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”. Even after I moved away, my neice and nephew that lived close enough to my parents to see then every Christmas remember him playing that record every Christmas .

by Richard Rosenberger G2G6 (6.6k points)
+11 votes
It was always traditional to put up a Christmas tree in our house when I was growing up.  All through my childhood it was the same (artificial) tree, which pre-dated me by quite some time, with the same coloured lights and decorations.  As I and my siblings progressed through the years, some new hand-made school project decorations were added and eventually the old angel/fairy for the top became tattered and fragile and was replaced by a star.  Our old farmhouse (now demolished) was some way back from the road along a lenghty lane, but as it was up on a hill I remember the Christmas tree being a beacon of light and so welcoming to see from the very dark bus stop when coming back home from school.  Being so far north I left for school in the dark and returned in the dark all of December and January, so the Christmas tree lights while they were on were a very welcome addition!
by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (33.9k points)
reshown by Linda Hawkes
+7 votes

Another week of really stretching to fit the subject. The family tradition that came immediately to mind, I used the week of "Legend" but here goes ...

One of my great grandparents had been "adopted" (The term is loosely used. It was more a fostered situation). Family tradition (or rumor) was that her parents had been killed in a buggy accident. There wasn't any truth to that family tradition. Her parents, Joseph Luther West and Ida Lucinda Blodgett, both lived well into the 1900's 10-20 years after their children had been sent to the county home, where several of them were assigned to foster families.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+8 votes
The McDaniel line through James McDaniel (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/McDaniel-576) and my Mitchell line through Frederick Mitchell (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mitchell-21206) are both Irish!
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 3 (38.3k points)
+11 votes
All the "traditions" with which I grew up, those same that I passed on to my children, did not translate well to moving 9500 miles and changing hemispheres.

With my husband we forged new "traditions" that were meaningful to us.  Without him, they, too, have not survived.

About the only "tradition" I have left (one which began the year after I moved that 9500 miles) is to wear a silly "holiday" themed vest with a couple of large ladybugs on that says "Bah Hum Bug".
by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (230k points)
+8 votes
Our family, had two traditions. Since before I was born, probably beginning with my great grandparents on both maternal and paternal sides, they would have their children (our grandparents, then parents when they were children) donate something they received in their stocking on December 6th to a charity. At the turn of the century, my maternal grandfather recalled donating a 'tiny wooden car' that was likely made by a family member and my paternal grandmother remembered donating a 'clothespin doll' also probably made by a family member. At that time, what they gave went to a local 'orphan home' so those children might have something for Christmas. The idea was that, as children, learning to give was more important than receiving. My parents recall donating handmade items (mittens, caps and such). I recall my siblings and I donating little 'Mattel' toys, or kewpie dolls; my daughter's donations were something 'Playschool.' My daughter, nieces and nephews still continue this tradition.

The other tradition was receiving or selecting ONE ornament each year to hang on the tree...something that meant something to us. Needless to say, our trees continue to look very 'eclectic' and cross-generational! The ornament I remember most was the one my mum made for my brother when he was in his 20's. My dad had taken a B&W photo of my brother when he was about 4-years-old sitting on the commode in 'the thinker' position with his jeans around his ankles. My mum found that old photo, attached it to a styrofoam square, added green and red fabric to the back and decorated the edges with ribbons embossed with glitter candy canes. We would open our homemade ornaments on Christmas Eve and hang them on the tree. My brother got this one the first year he was married and, of all homemade ornaments, it was the best ever! He's 71-years-old now and every year on Christmas Eve he hangs that ornament right smack on the front and center of the tree at eye level in its place of honor!
by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
edited by Carol Baldwin
+6 votes

I am a direct descendant of John Jermyn, born c. 1540 in Suffolk. Previously, he was believed to be a son of Ambrose Jermyn, however after finding a copy of Ambrose's will I noticed that he never once mentions a son named John. Myself and another researcher of the family believe that John could possibly be the son of Ambrose's brother, also named John, due to the location of the family and the popularity of the name at the time (it's highly unlikely that they're not related) but so far that theory remains unproven.

by Amy Utting G2G6 Pilot (164k points)
+8 votes
It is the season to be jolly ... so family traditions about the season seems appropriate.

About 35 years ago my wife, Marguerite Kulhavy-Sims, began the first step in the tradition ... every Christmas Eve  we have a homemade pizza event ... all pitch in making the pizzas ... all totally made from scratch ... as the family grows, it now takes a lot of pizzas with various toppings!

The second tradition started about the same time ... from our youthful years in NM ... the Christmas morning meal is breakfast burritos ... scrambled eggs with sausage and green or red chili.

After breakfast the Christmas Gift opening begins ... when the family grew it became a burden on some of the younger ones to buy gifts for all ... so several years ago we began drawing names ... then you must buy a gift and a stuff for the socking for that person ... kids under 18 are exempt and seem to get a lot more gifts ... as it should be!

Then a few years later ... as we were able to afford it ... the Christmas Dinner has traditionally been a large prime rib roast.

The family has grown a lot over the years ... there were 5 of us in the early days ... but kids, grand kids & great grand kids have expanded the Christmas traditions ... we are fortunate that all of them live in Sioux Falls ... last year we had 21 family members who enjoyed the 3 meals at our home.

There is also a more recent tradition ... started a few years ago ... a week or more before Christmas my daughter hosts a "making of Christmas goodies party" ... all show up ... all make some cookies, candy, pretzels and so on ... then there are Sloppy Joes and / or tacos for an evening meal.

And, of course, there is a little wine and eggnog with a little rum involved in most of the events!

Merry Christmas to all!!!!!  This makes 50 of 50 ... can't wait to get the last 2!!
by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 5 (51.9k points)
Those are some wonderful traditions and I bet you have a lot of great family memories to go with them.  Sometimes with genealogy we can get so caught up with family in the past (I sometimes feel I'm spending all my time in the late eighteen hundreds) that we forget about the family here and now!

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