Borders & Bucket Lists

Crossing Over Borders and Off Bucket Lists

Africa / Egypt / Middle East / Yemen

The Cultural Secrets of Our DNA

The Secrets of Our DNAFor Christmas this past year, my mom got a DNA test from MyHeritage DNA.  I think most people are either quite firm in what they believe their ethnicity to be or they simply don’t care.  However, simply the possibility of discovering some unknown, secret part of one’s background is intriguing enough to urge one to swab one’s mouth and send it off to a lab for $99.  So it was our turn.  It was our time to uncover the cultural secrets of our DNA.

Prior to taking this test, my mom and everyone in my family claimed that we were 100% Egyptian.  In other words, we claimed we were descendants of the great hieroglyphic-writing pharaohs.  Whether or not this was actually true though, was debated quite often.  Besides the fact that we only claimed to tie ourselves to the royal lines of ancient Egyptians, there were  also several groups that invaded and colonized Egypt, including the Ottomans, the Mongols, the British, and the French – so the possibility of interracial marriages was quite high.  So who was to say one of our ancestors wasn’t from one of these cultures? What was to say that we were actually mostly Egyptian?

It was time for MyHeritage DNA to reveal the secrets of our DNA.

The Secrets of Our DNA Results

In addition to being 45% Middle Eastern and 30% North African (so basically 75% Egyptian), as expected, my mom got a little surprise.  Rather than being Mongolian, British, or French as I suspected the DNA surprise would be, it turns out that my mom is about 20% Jewish (17% of which was Yemenite Jewish).  That would mean that I’m probably 10% Jewish, which is a huge percentage of my DNA.  This gives me another culture to embrace as my own

Because I know absolutely nothing about Yemenite Jews, I decided to do a bit of research.  As the name implies, Yemenite Jews are Jews that previously or currently lived in Yemen.  However, many Yemenite Jews actually fled Yemen because of persecution (wow look at that connection to the Egyptian Coptic side too).  As a matter of fact, an article from April 2017 claimed that there were only 50 Yemenite Jews still living in Yemen – and they were very much in danger of persecution.

But there are good parts to Yemenite Jews as well – especially their food customs.  A bit of research showed that Yemenite Jews have a few unique dishes, including jachnoon, kubaneh, and melawach.  To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what these are.  They seem to be a combination of Middle Eastern-influenced foods and Jewish customs, which is pretty cool.  I’m all about mixing and crossing cultural customs.

As you can tell, I’m quite excited about this newly-discovered portion of my background, but what about you?  Have you taken a DNA before?  Did you find out any DNA secrets?


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