Ethnic themes are very important to families who are proud of their backgrounds.
There are SO MANY ethnic backgrounds that listing ALL related themes here would be almost an impossible chore.
Many families are only a generation or two from their original family homelands. So, traditions handed down from generation to generation are kept alive through family reunions with ethnic themes.
Latino families are very family oriented and love to gather together often. My neighbors are such a family and they always include us in their family affairs. The women take time to make home made enchiladas, tacos and tamales from their family recipes. The children gather together to play their games and there is always very lively music. The men just love toenjoy themselves by standing around and telling stories.
Another family I am very fond of is African/American and they love their old traditions and they have used their ethnic themes in their food and dress. One of the "Aunt Mamie" makes a soup dish to die for and "Uncle John" makes the BEST ribs in the country. It's fun to watch him BBQ on an old 50-gallon drum that he cut in two to make his "pit". He cooks those ribs so slow that when they're finished they just fall off the bone - OH YUM! SO, delicious - but don't ask for his recipe he says, "It's an old family secret".
I, personally, come from an Italian background and I will paint a brief picture of what happens at our family reunions and gatherings.
When we gather together it is casual, boisterous and there is always a family "feast."
After greeting everyone with hugs, kisses, laughter and tears of joy. The party begins with a lot of intermingling and "catching up" with relatives that haven't been seen in a while.
Italian music is playing in the background and lots of pictures are being taken.
When the feast begins, it is usually at large tables, set very informally. All sorts of pasta and meats are placed on the tables in large bowls and platters - we serve "family style".
The food we serve is made from recipes handed down to us from our grandmothers.
After the meal, the tables are cleared off and fruits and nuts are brought out - no bowls for my grandfather, he put the nuts right on the table. (Incidentally, the nuts were picked from his trees.)
Then the stories start; the "remember whens" - it is such fun to hear some of the different memories everyoine has of similar situations.
If you have ever been to an Italian get-together, you know that everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - talks at once and hands are flying around to emphasize a point - we're all very expressive!!
Then the dancing starts - and, of course, some of the older family members start dancing the Tarantella - even the little kids try to keep up.
It's a little different if it's a picnic; it becomes an Italian potluck when someone makes grilled sausage and peppers on hard bread rolls; another person will make veal cutlets on french bread and, of course, what Italian meal isn't complete without eggplant parmigiana? But, the music and fun is still there - LOVE these gatherings!
Family traditions bring everyone closer and it becomes a happy, joyful event.
IDEA: Whenever families get together and bring food made from old family recipes - have them bring a copy of the recipe so a Family Cook Book can be developed.
Note - COMING SOON!! I will soon be adding an invitation for all my readers to submit stories of their reunions or gatherings using ethnic themes for incorporation into this site. I'd love to read and hear about them and share them with others. - Keep watching for that invitation - it will be coming soon!
Themes liven up any family reunion; even the ethnic themes we discussed here and holiday themes which we're going to discuss next.