Am I a Secret Hungarian?

ancestral healing

This post is part of a new series I'm doing whereby I realise that this is a personal blog where I can write about my own truth in the hope that it resonates with you. Like many travel bloggers, I used to write blog posts answering what I guessed your questions about travel/life questions were, but now I'm just going to wait until you actually ask me :) Meanwhile, here is blog post revolving around a question for YOU.

Ever since Tanbay and I broke up 2 years ago, I've been on a quest to 'find myself'. I've found a lot of myself in my own past: turns out I still love mathematics, I still love martial arts and I still love travel. But delving in even deeper I've found something that I think people who love Hungary might find interesting, and I've come up with a question to ask you:

1. What Makes Someone Hungarian? (Or Indeed, Any Nationality?)

There's the 'obvious': having a Hungarian passport, the ability to speak Hungarian, a undying love of tejföl, and Hungarian ancestors being four of them. I don't have the first three, but what about the fourth? And where does the line stop? How far back can you go and how far back can anyone go? A couple of years ago a Hungarian YouTuber straight up said to me "I want Hungary to remain Hungarian. I want it to remain white, Christian and full of Hungarians".. but again, who is Hungarian and who isn't?

Back to me (hair flick). The other day I was talking to my great Aunt and she was like "you know you're Hungarian right?" which led to me calling my great Uncle, and receiving a fascinating email about my heritage (thank you, thank you). Guess what? Great, great, great, great, great grandpa was Hungarian. Born and bred in a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire that is now Poland. His son was born there too (aka my great, great, great, great grandpa). But both ended up leaving Austro-Hungary during the Revolution of 1848 because of the anti-semitism.

hungarian ancestry
(If only I'd known when Portrait Blaho took this photo that my ancestors fled during the Kossuth Revolution... If only I'd known anything about Kossuth 😅 at the time, I just thought the colour would make a nice background.)

But back to my ancestors, my great, great, great grandpa (David) was one of five and the only one that wasn't born in Austro-Hungary, but rather in Jaffa in 1856. He married an Italian (Dolche) and then most of my ancestors on that side (including my Grandpa) were born in Egypt, (with the exception of one great, great grandma Louise, who married some French diamond merchant, lived and had babies in Paris before returning to her brothers in Egypt). So what am I? Hungarian? Austrian? Polish? Israeli? Palestinian? Italian? Egyptian? French?!

hungarian ancestry
(Incidentally, I've been to all of these places without knowing I had ancestors from there, oops. Maybe they were secretly calling me?😅)

And that's just on my grandpa's side of the family. When I start looking at my grandma's family and my other grandparents family I find Scots, Spanish, more French, Americans, English and more... According to my passport, birth certificate, accent, mother tongue and love of the taste Marmite (which I no longer buy bc f*ck unilver) I'm English, but it got me thinking.. where do people draw the line? When people tell other people to "go back home" where do they mean? The person in question's passport/birth place for sure, but what if their parent(s) have a different birth place/passport? Should my great, great, great grandparents have 'gone back to Hungary' when things calmed down because his parents were born Hungarian? Even though he was born in Israel and she was Italian? Well anyway they chose secret option d) Egypt... But if they had gone 'back' to Hungary, what about when that part of Hungary became Poland? Then where should they have go?

My dear great, great great grandparents David and Dolche in 1922 

2. The Imagined Communities of Nations

Ever since I read Sapiens (highly recommend btw), I started questioning what country borders even mean anyway - surely (like laws and money) it's just something we've all collectively agreed to (edit by Tamás: indoctrinated to) believe in. I mean, not even that, it's something we all collectively believe in with little to no thought put into it. (And you look down on those who have blind faith...)

Ultimately, just because your mama squatted down in a certain place (at a certain time when that certain place was a certain country) does that mean that you 'deserve' to live in a better (or worse) country than your friend whose mama squatted down on the other side of the planet?

And talking about you and your mama, if you're a Hungarian reading this, what about you? Assumably you were born in Hungary, and one or both of your parents were too, and your grandparents? What about your great grandparents? And your great great grandparents? How Hungarian are you? Maybe our great, great, great grandparents knew each other, lol (Tamás and I do have feet that look weirdly alike...) But feet aside, to my point: if you're the kind of person that says things like "people who aren't Hungarian should go back to where they came from" please, please consider a few things:

1) what does being Hungarian (or any nationality) even mean?
2) are countries and borders even a thing or did we just invent them?
3) do you really think that wherever someone's mama squatted down and pushed them out is where they should stay forever?

It's important to note, that despite not living in England since I was 21 and having been to many countries, no one is yet to tell me to "go back to where I came from" or anything related to discriminating me because of where I'm from  - the closest I ever came was when a Serbian told me a joke:

"What do you call someone who speaks three languages?"
"Someone who speaks two?"
"Someone who speaks one?"

I brushed it off because a) fair dinkum, many English people can't speak another language and b) this joke didn't even apply to me, bilingual b*tch that I am. But, my actual point: although no one has ever told me personally to "go back to where I came from" this is something many other people are told (among other awful things) on the daily, and it has to stop. It's mean and it's not logical. Especially considering that: everyone's ancestors were immigrants once - we all came from somewhere (ultimately, from Africa)

Additionally, the fact that I even know my 'lineage' is another privilege, many people (especially many African Americans) don't know who their ancestors are. It's important to know our history, and know our collective history, or we are doomed to repeat it. And it's extra important to educate yourself on all sides of the story, especially if your government and/or education system is severely lacking a side or two. You are privileged to be reading this blog right now (no, not because I'm narcissistic and think it's a privilege to read my ramblings, lol, but rather) because you have at least some access to the internet, so please use that privilege to educate yourself on your fellow humans (and non-human animals, and planet). I genuinely believe that the more people learn about each other, the less frightened they are of each other and the less likely they are to be a d*ck to each other.

3. Wrap Up: Go Glocal (Global + Local) and Join the Revolution!

I know many of you think I'm stupid because I can't talk Hungarian (edit by Tamás: not true, you understand a lot, Hungarians just tend to get hung up on the fact that you're not PERFECT, bc our education system was devised by perfectionists) and I believe in the zodiac (among other things) and I choose not to eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs but really, I've always been a logical person (with a maths degree) and I just don't get this. Isn't variety the spice of life? Aren't we all just humans who want the best for our families and aren't we all ultimately related and thus all family? And instead of looking at it as countries (again, a concept that was made up in the 18th and 19th centuries) that are doomed to fight each other, couldn't we instead look at it as one world that we all share together, and could easily be sharing it more fairly? <3 

hungarian ancestry
Me leading the revolution to make us all plant-based citizens of the world with my captivated audience (aka no one lol).

At the end of the day, I don't care what you do as long as your kind. So please, if you have a logical answer to my questions, you could write a comment below (you can use Facebook to login). And last but not least, I'll leave you with my dear great, great, great, great Hungarian grandmother, Sarah  (Sára) in 1895 (Thank you Martin for compiling our family history!):

what is nationality

Also, a testament to our ultimate mixture of multi-ethnic/national attitude: a British woman of Hungarian, Jewish, Egyptian, French, Scottish, etc. descent reads the Hungarian translation of a book originally written in English by a brit (of Scottish and god know what other descent) with the help of 'Hungarian Tamás' (of Serbian, Austrian, Jewish and who knows what other kinds of descent) - enjoy :)

P.S.: In case you did actually want to become a Hungarian citizen (of this wonderful quasi-totalitarian state), you have to pass a Hungarian language test (good luck lol). For that I recommend my friends Julia who wrote the Smart Hungarian Audio Course (use WEASELS30 for 30% off) and Zsuzsi of Hungarian with Zsuzsi :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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