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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ethnic Groups in Mormondom? Where?

In visiting my husband's home town, he showed me where the various ethnic neighborhoods were when he was growing up. He pointed out where the various ethnic groups traditionally resided and so forth. Many remain. I was fascinated but puzzled. There aren't really any ethnic neighborhoods or groups in Utah. I was never aware of anyone's ethnic identification or even my own. We were all Mormons or Non-Mormons.

An article entitled, "How the Swiss founded a Mormon town" appears in swissinfo.ch. Obviously, there should be identifiable ethnic groups in Utah. Santa Clara, Utah has a distinct Swiss heritage as this article makes clear. The end of the article suggests this heritage has been largely lost.
Some have made the trip back to Switzerland to visit their forefathers’ villages, see how their names were struck from local church registers and to make surprising connections about how Swiss ways still infuse their lives so many years later.
“Their lifestyle, habits and ways had been carried here,” Graf said. “Growing up we used to always eat little dumplings on holidays. It wasn’t until I went to Switzerland that I realised ‘little dumplings’ are called spƤtzli and you can eat it anytime you want.”
In my family, we are recent English immigrants on my father's side. On my mother's side the Swedish immigrants are even more recent. In fact, my maternal grandfather was BORN in Sweden. But, there is absolutely nothing of this Swedish heritage left in my family. We are fully Americanized and Mormonized, if that is a word. It probably isn't.

If heritage had been retained by Mormon westerners perhaps European hostilities would have been too. Maybe the melting pot of Utah burned away old hostilities and rivalries. I hope so.

Traditions and cultural practices are only worth retaining if they are inherently good. I suspect this isn't a popular idea but it is one I've made before.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you've lost touch with your own heritage, but we here in Utah have not, and it's a source of celebration rather than hostility. Midway and Santa Clara still have annual Swiss days, there are occasional Welsh Eistedfodds, Salt Lake has its yearly Greek festival, and just try to find anybody in Sanpete County who doesn't know the Danish genealogy of everybody in town!

    Well into the 20th century the Church sponsored newspapers in foreign languages, and regularly used the Assembly Hall on Temple Square for foreign language Sunday meetings. One of the major motives behind the Relief Society's Mormon Handicraft Store was to preserve and showcase the needlework skills brought to Utah from all over the world.

    Utah, both Mormon and non-Mormon, is very proud of its varied ethnic heritage, and remains interested in preserving and celebrating it. It's truly a shame when individual families lost touch.