Last month I coughed up $129 and (no pun intended) approximately one tablespoon of saliva for the advancement of science — and an AncestryDNA™ test, which I was told would show the ethnic makeup of my DNA. It would also identify relations in Ancestry.com’s DNA database who could potentially help me fill in any gaps in my painstakingly researched family tree.
The results validated what I suspected deep, deep in my heart. I AM A VIKING. That’s right, according to Ancestry.com my DNA is 52% Scandinavian. 52%!
I’m also 24% Central European, 19% British Isles and 5% “other”. I’m interpreting “other” as genetic meaning ties to both Abraham Lincoln and Scandinavian royalty. (What? Anything is possible.)
Joking aside, I never thought I had even a smidgen of Scandinavian in me, despite my pasty skin and red hair. I always considered myself Central European (German and Dutch) through and through, with a smattering of English and Irish thrown in. It matched my surname and family tree research, and it felt right too. I like fondue, schnitzel, spaetzle and strudel, as well as drinking beer from a large, boot-shaped glass. I primarily wear earth tones. (Take a walk around Berlin sometime, and you’ll see that the unofficial German national colors are brown and evergreen.)
Yet there was still something missing. I also love smorgasbords and Ikea Swedish meatballs. Scandinavians do too! And I have drunk my share of Akvavit (a traditional spirit produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century). Mystery solved!
I have traced no ancestors to Sweden, Norway or Denmark so I can only assume that any genetic link is to my Viking forefathers, who pillaged and marauded all over Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to mid-11th centuries. At some point my war-weary tribe must have been bitten by the Bavarian bug, and decided to settle there. And who could blame them?
Eventually, one of them must have taken up the culinary arts. (Koch is German for “cook”.)
Aside from the relief I feel, knowing where my weird foodie tastes come from, I like that I now have a much better reason to visit Scandinavia and an indisputable connection to Mad Men’s Betty Draper Francis. In season two Betty explained her profound sadness to a fellow rider at the stables:
“It’s just my people are Nordic.”
I laughed and laughed when she said that… but now it’s personal. I guess it’s time to work on my profoundly sad, Betty Draper face and break out the schnapps.