I’ve been thinking more and more about the idea of where my family is from and why they decided to immigrate. Today I have been totally absorbed in reading history about the places where I believe my great great grandparents are from.
I’ve always know that their background was Russian, given that my dad grew up celebrating Russian Orthodox holidays and his grandmother baked them Paska Bread on Easter. The other thing that I knew is that they were chased out of Russia due to religious beliefs and they settled somewhere in the mountains. I have always heard that they lived in Czechoslovakia, so in that case it means they were most likely in Slovakia. While i was reading I also found out that a number of religious groups moved from Russia to Romania as well, which also has a vast area of mountains.
So I have been reading about Russian, Slovakian, Romanian, and Czech history this morning. Depending on where they settled, it could have been for any number of reasons. They could have been members of a cult(!) that was severely looked down upon in Russia (the group that settled in Romania), or they could have been part of the old Religion that differed slightly from Orthodox in values.
What seems to make sense is that yes, they settled in Slovakia owing to a belief in the older religion. They then were scared by the build-up of revolutions in all of the countries surrounding Slovakia, and decided to move since war was imminent. This makes sense since my great grandfather was born in 1906 in New York state.
What I am wondering now is how they felt about being Russian. Were they proud of their old country, were they ashamed of it, were they disappointed in it? Did they speak English with the Slovaks? Did they adopt the local language? Was Russian close enough so they didn’t have to switch at all? What would they think about my emigration to Sweden— especially since Sweden has always been at odds against Russia. Would they think that it is just a continuation of the pattern that they started? Did the pattern start only with them? Have we always moved around to where the grass seems greener or safer?
I am beginning to wonder how knowing snippets of their stories have impacted my life. Great grandfather spoke Russian and English and his wife that he met and married in the US spoke English and Gaelic. Is this why I don’t mind learning Swedish? Is it programmed in my heritage that one must learn another language— especially of the person you settle down with? It seems so. And it is also practical as well.
Im going to start doing some more research to find out exactly why they moved from Russia and from whereabouts. In the meantime, I started thinking about my last name (which is British in origin). I’ve always heard that it means “Where the deer play”. Now this definitely could be true, but if one looks at it from a Swedish and Old Norse perspective, it means ‘Deer Village’. Which makes me laugh, but I still like it :)