Exploring your European Family Heritage
The first Europeans to reach the shores of what is now the US and survive to tell the tale arrived way back in 1620. The Mayflower Society estimate there are now 10 million American descendants of the 102 brave souls that arrived aboard the Mayflower. In the years since, waves of immigrants from every European country have added vigor, energy, and enterprise to make America the great country it is today.
Exploring your family history by traveling with your family uncovering the past is a great way to build and share those family bonds. Children (and grandchildren) love the sense of adventure and being amazed to see their family names in old manuscripts and monuments. And they will value learning about long-forgotten relatives and the countries, cities, and countryside that are so much a part of their family heritage.
Here are just a few of the many places in Europe that Finest Journeys can design you a trip to help you discover your family heritage:
If your ancestors traveled out of England, looking for a better life, then 2020 is the year to pursue that adventure. There are celebrations across England to commemorate the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s first voyage that transported people from the Uk across the Atlantic ocean to the US. September 2020 sees the Mayflower Muster in Plymouth – nine days of festivals and pageants.
Throughout England, there are celebrations throughout central England where the American descendants will be especially welcomed and feted.
The infamous Highland clearances of the 18th century emptied much of central and northern Scotland of its peasantry. Driven by famine and homelessness huge numbers of Scots joined the transport ships a better life in the Americas.
The ScotlandsPeople Centre and National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh offer access to a huge range of records, and there are many other archives, family history centres and libraries throughout Scotland where you can dig deeper into your family history with the help of local experts organized by Finest journeys. Clan Gatherings are regular events that bring together the worldwide diaspora of Scottish family clans. If your family is connected with the Sinclairs, McGraths, Donovans, McEwen, Mackenzie or Menzies then Scotland is the place to be in 2020.
The Irish famines of the mid 19th century created two million refugees – many seeking a new life in the US – especially New England. The EPIC Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin was voted Europe’s No 1 tourist attraction. Your children will be thrilled to discover their connections to Irish history.
The family history center adjoining EPIC is the ideal place to start your Irish family history search before heading out into the green fertile countryside to uncover old family homes and long lost relatives who will be thrilled to make your acquaintance. Finest Journeys can introduce you to special places which will make history come alive for you and your family.
Around the start of the 20th century grinding rural poverty drove four million poor souls from southern Italy to emigrate to the US. Americans of Italian ancestry now make up the country’s fifth largest ethnic group.
You can find out about your Italian ancestors by browsing this website. If you already know the last name of your living relatives – or those who have passed away – then fill in the village they belong to and hit Trova (find in Italian). You will come away with both the physical addresses and phone numbers of people who share your last name and still live in the village you indicated. After finding out where they live, you can start the process of reconnecting by reaching out. We’d advise making sure whether they are related to you or not before flying all the way to Italy! Although, given the small size of the villages, the chances are high that they are your relatives.
At Finest Journeys, we know that family matters to you. Why not let us design an Italian family heritage trip for 2020 specially for you?
One of the greatest drivers of emigration from Europe was to escape religious intolerance. From the earliest times right through to the present day, religious freedom of the US constitution has offered opportunity and sanctuary. In the 20th century, the religious persecution the Jews faced at the hands of the Nazis led to one of the biggest migrations in history and flourishing and successful Jewish communities across the US.
The Jewish faith and connections are strong and proud across modern Europe and here are just a few European countries and cities the heritage can be explored in:
Where Belmonte is the spiritual center of Crypto-Jewry. It is a place where an entire community of Conversos kept large parts of their faith intact throughout the Moorish and Inquisition eras and, after 500 years, returned to it en masse. In Porto, at the mouth of the Douro river is the Jewish Museum in the imposing Kadoorie synagogue At Tomar, in central Portugal, is the medieval synagogue built in 1438, the museum holds Judaica, fine art, several medieval Jewish gravestones.
The historic Portuguese Synagogue is the highlight of the Jewish Quarter which dates back to 1645. Today the nearby Jewish Historical Museum, the Holocaust Memorial and the tragic memories contained in the Anne Frank house are the most obvious traces of Jewish history in the city.
Holland’s most famous soccer team – Ajax – is known as the Jewish team. Kosher restaurants are numerous, some dating back over 200 years.
Finest Journeys will custom build an itinerary around you and your family to help you search out and visit key places in your family heritage.
Jews have lived in Paris since medieval times. The Marais – Pletzl – is the heart of Jewish Paris. It buzzes with specialty shops, Kosher restaurants and bakeries, lively cafes and beloved falafel stands.
The Jewish community of Rome is one of the oldest in Western Europe, dating back over 2000. Today, Rome’s Jewish quarter is a gateway to the past. The Jewish Museum is rich with artifacts that illustrate first-hand the traditions and unique customs of the Jews in Rome. The Great Synagogue is magnificent and the Spanish synagogue will reveal secrets and amazing architecture. You can taste your way through Ancient Rome with typical dishes of Roman Jewish culture in the Jewish quarter.
Across every state of the US, there are successful families with a proud European heritage which can be traced back generations. And to explore these family ties across the generations and centuries, Finest Journeys will help you uncover your family roots.
A multi-generation vacation trip is a great way to bring the entire family together in a private journey of family discovery.
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