Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Collapse LXXVI: Heritage

17 March 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day, in our house in days gone by, was one of the few holidays we more or less kept. It was, to be fair, more or less a food holiday for us: the last Seneca related ancestor stepped off the boat to America over 200 years ago and on the whole, we never looked back.

Still, it was something that was more or less “traditionally” celebrated, or at least as it was traditionally celebrated in the United States: Corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and soda bread. Perhaps a Porter beer for good measure. No dessert; oddly enough, the Irish – at least as we celebrated them and as I knew them – did not have particularly novel desserts. I suppose some form of Bailey’s Irish Creme cooked in something would have made do.

At one time, one of my distant relatives did a genealogy search. If records were true, we were descended from a proud Irish Clan in the province of Connaught, one of the heredity war clans of the Lords of Connaught (if true, of course. We often like to believe that at some point we came from something perhaps a little grander than we have.)

A writer I read once suggested that one reflect for a moment on the marvel that was one’s life, in the sense that thousands of years and hundreds of ancestors had led to your existence. Looking back, one would see a line going far into the past, expanding like a tree as it grew, bits and pieces of peoples and nations and states, a living testimonial of history.

I wonder how such things will fair if this continues long enough.

Will those that come after us remember who their ancestors were and where they came from? Will such festivals and feasts be celebrated? Or will we all of this, this sort of heritage that is as much folk history as it is historical, fade away and be lost?

We are only ever one generation away from beginning to lose the roots of our past. Give something two or three generations and it will slip beyond the ken of knowledge, remaining only in the back corners of minds that love trivia and the dusty tomes of historians and cultural observers.

Even then, the knowledge may be there, but the heart and humanity behind it will be lost.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. I have a lot of Irish ancestry. Fortunately there are others in my family that enjoy genealogy since doing that type of research doesn't appeal to me.

    1. It does not really appeal to me either, Kelly. I, too, have relatives that engage in such pursuits from which I benefit.

      The Mighty Ed at Riverbend Journal is a master of this sort of research, however.

  2. Interesting thoughts. We humans seem to have no generational memory, except through our own activity. Without feasts, celebrations, and traditional stories and songs, Without that, what are we connected to?

    1. Leigh, it is true - in some ways why "clannishness" and tribalism were and are a thing: it helps the social cohesion of the group and establishes an identity of "us", versus someone else.

      "Without that, what are we connected to?" I think the unfortunate answer here is "Not Much", as is evidenced by the modern Western World.


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