This is ONE OF 5 responses to VC 21 Stuart 5 ("A bit more")...
I'm also very interested in people's backgrounds, especially as I find out more about my own. My background consists of a wide variety of cultures. I'll start with my dad's side.
The first members of the R--- clan came to this country in the 1700s. There were two brothers who came from the town of R--- in England, near the Scottish border. It probably went back and forth in possession between the English and Scottish. All that exists now is a remnant of a wall known as (you guessed it) the R--- wall. My uncle discovered many R---s listed in phone books in Denmark, but none in Britain, which led him to presume we may be Danish, or may have fled to Denmark during one of England's many wars.
There are some interesting patterns on this side of my family. Teaching is definitely a popular profession among the R---s. We also have a number of family first names which are used quite regularly.
My paternal grandmother's family history is a little sketchier, although we know there's a mixture of Native American (Cherokee) and mountain folk from the Appalachians. We have an old photo of some of our "kin" and they look like the guys in ZZ Top!!
Her side of the family (the Kever clan) have some very strange first names. Her name is Wincil, and she has two sisters named Boot and Jack, and a brother (now deceased) named Delynn. I also had an Uncle Bernice and an Aunt Bill!
My dad's family is Southern Baptist; he converted to Judaism before marrying my mom. We celebrated Hanukkah and had Christmas stockings plus gifts from Santa, though we did not celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas. My dad just likes the element of surprise.
I have two cousins on my mom's side who are doing research on that part of my family tree. My mom is a Holocaust survivor and most of her side of the family was wiped out during WWII, so the information we have is minimal.
My maternal grandmother's side (the Opperman family) were from Turka, Poland, and possibly from Romania and/or Russia before that. At least they were in Poland just before the turn of the century. They had their own family klezmer orchestra. Klezmer is traditional Eastern European Jewish music (just think of the music in any family or wedding scene in a Woody Allen movie). From what we know, they travelled around Europe playing concerts. They're mentioned in a book my cousins found, and they are looking for a translator to interpret a Yiddish book about Turka, to see if there's any more information about them or about life in Turka.
In any case, my maternal grandparents met and married in Vienna. My aunt and my mother were both born there and had a happy life until my mom was six. She and her sister were shipped off to France immediately after Krystallnacht (when everyone finally realized Hitler wasn't kidding). Her mother escaped to England and worked as a chef, but her father was captured by the Nazis. He managed an escape, tracked his daughters down in France, but was turned in by the French. My mom got to see him one last time through a chain link fence before he was carted off to Auschwitz and killed.
My mom and her sister managed to survive - they lived in the Rothchild family's chateaus which had been converted to children's homes, a convent, and farms in Southern France - and were reunited with their mother in England after the war. They eventually made it to the U.S. (Detroit, of all places!), and then to California, where my parents met.
Well, this ended up being a family history, rather than a nationality list, but to me, this all has a lot to do with why I am the way I am, just as Yumi said. To summarize: I'm English, Scottish, Danish and Cherokee on my dad's side and Polish (maybe Romanian and Russian), Austrian and Jewish on my mom's (whew!).