I Am Ostfriesland
I never thought much about my Low German roots until a few years ago when a friend of mine (who happens to be from Germany) explained to me the distinction between High and Low German ( Plattdüütsch)
High German is the language of today, spoken by pretty much anyone who says they are German. Low German (depending on who you talk to) would be considered slang, spoken by the uncultured, back woods poor peasant types). My Grandpa (Opa) came from Low German stock, where as Grandma (Oma) came from the city, was more refined and spoke both.
There should be no shame in having Low German roots but just between me and you, ever since hearing the distinction, I’ve felt just a wee bit second rate….until this week.
I’d heard growing up that my ancestors came from the Northern part of Germany called “Ostfriesland” (pronouned Aush-Freeze-land) ( or the Freeland). This week I’ve done some reading…
It seems that way back in the time of the Roman empire, the people of Northern Germany lived in freedom and did not want to submit themselves to the bully called Rome. The area they lived in was in fact called ”The Free lands” Rome decided to conquer these farmers, instead, they (the Romans) got their butts kicked in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (A.D.9) The peasants knew there would be hell to pay and there was. It resulted in 7 years of bloody conflict, but in the end, Rome never was able to completely subdue them.
I told my wife this morning, the Ostfrieslanders were too busy fighting off Roman soldiers to care how many spoons you needed to formally set the table. And yet, as I’ve read more about my ancestors this week, I also learned they were not the brute savages you might think. Taticus (Roman historian) mentions they were fiercely monogamous.
I say all of this to tell you, I embrace the fact that there is “Freelander” blood coursing through my veins. It gives me a rich heritage I didn’t realize I had.
If you want to know more…check out this link: