The history of family reunions, which is to say the story of how family reunions became a common and popular practice, is a difficult one to trace back. There are several points in history that can be pointed to where it’s believed the idea of the modern family reunion first took shape. Without thinking too hard about it though, it’s easy to get lost in the idea that these are things that would have always happened. They are, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively new practice.
Up until the last few centuries family reunions wouldn’t have needed to exist, or they wouldn’t have been able to exist for all practical purposes. That’s because the lifestyle that most of the world cultures adopted was one in which families stayed very close together throughout all of their lives. When people did branch off from their families the chances were that they’d lose most contact with each other.
Throughout most of recorded history, the only families that actually knew enough about their extended family to be able to host a reunion were royal families. In most monarchies the families would regularly gather together anyway for the sake of dealing with ruling the country. So naturally there was no need for reunions to exist for them.
As of the nineteenth century there were a number of families who managed to have a well traced lineage. In Scotland there were several predominant families that took pried in their heritage and could trace their roots back quite far. As for reunions though, there was still no need, at least not in the traditional sense we know today. For the most part they gathered frequently as well. It should also be noted that if a family were to have thought up the idea of a reunion a couple hundred years ago, there would have been no efficient way of organizing such an event to include family that had travelled abroad.
This brings us closer to modern times. It’s believed that around the 18th and 19th centuries there were Scottish families who had immigrated to America and kept up a tradition of gathering regularly for religious ceremonies. While not family reunions by design, this tradition that was brought with them from their homeland is believed to be a very strong source of the modern family reunion concept.
As the decades wore on families began to drift farther apart geographically speaking, but the methods of transportation and communication improved all the while. That meant that the need and practicality of reunions became more real. The abolishment of slavery, world wars and other high impact events of recent history helped push this need as well as the desire of gathering together with extended family.
In much more recent history the media has served to push the notion of family reunions as well. The miniseries Roots has been credited with driving the idea amongst black families, while general popular culture in the media has helped inspire the idea amongst all others. As it stands today, family reunions are so popular there is actually an industry being built around it that’s estimated to earn hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
About the Author:
Jane Jones loves to write, any subject, any time, but two of Janes favourite subjects family and health related subjects.
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