Editorial – Homeland

In German, a clear distinction is made between fatherland, home and homeland. The fatherland is, as the name says, the land of the fathers; originally it meant the land to be cultivated which belonged to the father, later it was used as a translation of the Latin word patria and thus it got the meaning which the Latin word includes. Patria, on the other hand, originates from the adjective patrius-a-um, which means coming from the fathers, paternal or of the father. The home can be in the fatherland, but also somewhere else. The home is the house, practically the roof under which one lives, where one’s own bed stands and whose stove one uses. Home is a Germanic word and means place of residence.

Home, however, is a very unique concept that is not so old. The Brothers Grimm had written in their German dictionary that Heimat (homeland) had three types of use: As a name for the country in which one is born, to name ones permanent residence and to refer to the parental house and property. In the legal language the term home was still defined around 1900 as belonging to a community. But today home is much more than that. Home describes a place at a certain time, in which a certain socio-cultural development took place, to which one feels a belonging. In other words, for some people home can mean a place that they have only experienced for a few moments, minutes or days, while others use this word to refer to a large region to which they feel connected throughout their lives because they practice its traditions and culture. Sometimes without ever having lived there.

In today’s globalized world, where genes are transcended and distances shrink, we often forget that our world consists of a conglomerate of more than seven billion homes. Each person defines homeland differently, it may be a smell, a song, a meal for some, some define homeland by the sight of a mountain, or the freshly baked waffles of their grandmother. Perhaps home is the only thing known and everything else is the great unknown.

PonderingTime this month is dedicated, to explore the many facets of home cultures, peering into the hearts of our authors and looking into their childhood memories, parental homes and farms, trying to feel with those who have lost their homes. We cook and taste, we travel and feel, we immerse ourselves in the foreign homes of others.

Come in to our homes and join us.