Sometimes heritage, ancestry, and history are discussed as if the concepts are all one and the same thing. However, I, and Merriam Webster, disagree. Each word has adifferent meaning and is not the same no matter the context. I don't even believe they are equal.
In the context of this blog, heritage is something passed on or acquired based on where we are born, or how we are raised, or our overall environment. Heritage is more likely linked to culture.
Ancestry is who – not necessarily where – you come from. Your lineage. Who are those that came before you with the same bloodline? Your ancestors.
History – this is the big one. To discuss history is to tell the past details of a place, an event, a people, or a person. Why is this the big one? Because this one is subjective – history can be influenced by the narrator. The narrative can be biased. One person's memory or perspective of the story can be completely different from another person's who was right there at the exact time and place. In addition, one person's history can impact and change the trajectory of another's life.
Never mind,the equality of the three ideas… equality is a matter for the individual to evaluate. So why are these three so important? And why is it so important to understand and keep these three concepts separate?
Understanding and keeping these three concepts separate are important for our overall wellbeing – our self-confidence, our strength, our hope, our very survival.
It is important to know why we celebrate and follow traditions in a certain way, who were the first of our ancestors to begin those traditions and what some of the past events are that impacted or influenced our physical and spiritual being.
Once we have discussed heritage in the first three to four posts in this HAH series, then the next two or three posts will be about ancestry and ancestors. The last of the three ideas in this series – history – will consist of as many posts as we have to share events, stories, and Bermudian folklore and its impact on families,individuals, and the country as a whole. Let's live, laugh, and love together as we share Bermudian AHAHs!
Much has been said of Bermuda's heritage or lack of heritage, depending on who is speaking at the time. So, what can be called heritage for Bermudians?
Let's see…culture includes a people's housing, clothing, food, and traditions(celebratory, symbolic, and other.) Since heritage and culture may be considered as synonymous, we will start there – cultural heritage.
Housing in Bermuda is so much a part of who we are as a people. How many people were mortified about the construction of houses at Midland Heights back in the 80's? Poured concrete walls, fake slate roofs. Bye vat you talkin' 'bout? You must be crazy!
At one time so much of our heritage was literally built into our housing. The natural limestone quarries provided jobs for countless men to take care of their families. Cutting blocks and slate out of the quarries to build solid houses that could withstand many storms and hurricanes. Limestone roofing that could be whitewashed and used for collecting precious water into tanks on the side or under the houses. Where else in the world is there construction such as Bermuda houses? Nowhere, nowhere at all.
How many times have you talked to visitors or foreign friends about the construction of Bermuda houses? I was at a social event in Georgia recently where one of the guests was telling me and another Georgia resident about Bermuda housing construction. The guest had visited Bermuda on several occasions. She had her facts straight and was fascinating her friends with her knowledge.
Then take moongates. Although in Bermuda via China, this symbol of good fortune and love is made of the same Bermuda limestone that could be chiseled and smoothed into a magical shape and used as a backdrop for wedding pictures both old and new. It is said that blessings of eternal love and happiness will follow lovers who walk through a moongate. Look back in your family photos to see how many weddings included the moongate shot.
As Bermudians we are proud of the architectural heritage that influences our culture of pastel colored limestone houses cut by masters of the quarry, built by master masons, and neighborhood friends. The white roof topped buildings are one of the first things seen as the plane lands after miles and miles of white clouds and blue seas. And what an AHAH moment it is!