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 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 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 becomes more widespread, we’ll naturally be interested in our past.
As we learn about our family heritage, we often understand our parents, 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 to understand our predecessors and their lives better. Before these memories fade and the details 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 people should be documented.
National Roots Day Timeline
Immigration Numbers Peak
Immigration to the U.S. peaks, with 1.3 million settlers entering Ellis Island alone.
Gush of Immigration
After the U.S. War of 1812 against Britain, there was an explosion of immigration from Western Europe to the U.S.
Charles II of Spain
Charles II of Spain was born due to 16 generations of inbreeding, which led him to suffer from many physical disabilities.
Surnames Were Adopted
Last names or surnames were used in 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, several directories are available online, like RootsWeb and FamilySearch, for looking up your ancestors for free.
Why is family important?
From birth, our family is the most integral and important influence in forming our personality and habits. Our parents and siblings are our first teachers and role models, laying the foundation for our behaviours 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 possible from your grandparents, parents, 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 family’s youngsters together and fill them in on stories of how grandpa met grandma and any significant historical events your family was involved in.
- Research through a service
- If your family findings are insufficient or you’d like to 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 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 deceased person’s family.
- Age difference
- 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
- Honouring your family name and history
- Your family has come a long way. Many disputes have been fought, and our ancestors have done great work. It will 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 learn more about ourselves and better understand our traits and habits. It is a wonderful experience 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.