Slideshows can be one nice way to present your research with family pictures. One way to create a slideshow is to enlist the aid of family members at holiday gatherings. It’s easiest to break this project out into two family gatherings. For example: at the first family gathering you can interview your relatives to discover the inside scoop on your family history. Then for the second family gathering, you can present your findings. Of course, you can create a slideshow without participating in a family gathering, but since it’s holiday season, family gatherings might be a good place to showcase your work. Place the emphasis on the most interesting images or stories.I’ve included some suggestions to give you a little direction.
Add period music, photos and visual aids if you want to add a little more color. Remember though, photographs and musical pieces are covered under copyright law, so be careful about using them indiscriminately. If you’re distributing the slideshow on an individual basis, this may not be a large concern. However, if it’s going on the Internet, be very careful with the music you use and its copyright qualifications. What family photos do you have that really capture the best moments in your family history? Are there specific songs that remind you of times in your life?
You can begin with a short autobiography. What information do you think will be most relevant? Basics such as birthplace, year and early life are great here. Include photos, hobbies, schools attended, love stories, etc. Let people get a real feel for who you are.This is also a great opportunity to share what you think other generations should know about you.
Next, you can organize the rest of your project in a more conventional way by spreading your presentation out through the rest of the branches of your family tree. Start with your parents and nuclear family, and then spread to grandparents, great grandparents, etc.
However,there is another method I prefer a little more. You can organize your information by subject. For example, do you know your family’s immigration story? What about historical context? What major events have your ancestors seen? What stories and anecdotes do you know about your family members? You can even write small personality profiles of your ancestors. Do you see any personality patterns that have been passed down through the generations?
There are few better ways to learn about who you are than to learn about where you come from. For one family gathering, do some interviewing (check out other blog posts for great interview questions). For another gathering, present your findings. This holiday season, take advantage of having the whole family together and see what you can find!
Today is Saint Nicholas Day! Learning the history of your favorite holiday characters can not only be a fun family activity, but also a great way to discover the origins of your family lineage. Holiday traditions can be based on a number of things like location, ethnicity, nationality, or strictly family traditions. Saint Nicholas is a common theme in many winter celebrations, though there are more traditions around this saint’s day than there are people that celebrate it! Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of more causes than any other saint but he is most commonly known as the patron saint of children in the Catholic religion. Santa Claus with a twinkle in his eye and rosy-red cheeks evolved from the Catholic Saint Nicholas. While both their histories are rich and varied, there are certainly some common themes.
In many countries, Saint Nicholas is accompanied on his journey by helpers, some scarier than others. In Austria, he is seen with a Krampus, a terrifying creature representing the less pleasant side of St. Nick’s visits, and deals with the naughty children. Zwarte Piete in the Netherlands, Le Pére Fouettard in France and parts of Belgium, and Knecht Ruprecht in Germany also join Saint Nick as his helper. Aside from these accomplices, Saint Nicholas is usually affiliated with animals as well, whether it is a donkey, white horse, reindeer, or a white Ford Mustang. In Curaçao, Saint Nicholas arrives for his parade in a white Ford Mustang, the closest equivalent to the white horse he rides in the Netherlands.
This brings us to the rather blurry lines between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus in the United States. Some American cities still celebrate St. Nick’s Day, and sometimes St. Nick is introduced as Santa’s helper. Growing up in a European-influenced family, I never knew the distinction between the two characters. It is believed that Santa Claus was introduced to America by the Dutch settlers of what is today New York and widely spread from there to the Santa Claus Americans know now, the jolly fellow in a red suit with a reindeer-led sleigh.
The evolution from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus was largely thanks to the efforts of two New Yorkers. The first is Clement Clarke Moore who wrote A Visit from Saint Nicholas, sometimes known today as The Night Before Christmas. Santa made his first appearance here as a jolly elf, dressed in American fur, who delivered gifts to children via a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. Later, Thomas Nast created Christmas illustrations in Harper’s Weekly and transformed Moore’s elf into a larger, jollier man who lived at the North Pole, with a large list of naughty and nice children. And so the American Santa Claus was born. To learn more about this evolution, check out the History Channel clip here.
The next time you see Santa Claus at your local mall, consider his rich history and maybe even look into your family’s traditions regarding Santa Claus if they have any. Do you leave shoes out for Saint Nicholas to give you small treats? Perhaps you light a candle in your doorway to welcome him to the feast like they do in Albania. Or maybe you’ve been to Argentina where they hold a large Tinkunaco festival to celebrate Saint Nick. Whatever your tradition, it can shed light on your family’s heritage and allow you to carry on those traditions to generations to come.