What Is Family Heritage?

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One might wonder why the term family heritage does not carry a dictionary definition. Therefore, to understand family heritage it may be helpful to examine both words of the phrase. Both words have varying meanings, which could influence how family heritage may be defined.

Defining Family

The dictionary definition of the word family may carry several different meanings. The first meaning that is given refers to small groups of people, which usually consist of one or two parents and their children. The next definition of family refers to two people who live together and have long-term commitments to one another. The third dictionary definition of family defines it as anyone who lives under the same roof. Relating to heritage, family is defined as a group that is alike in that they are a part of the same lineage or class.

Defining Heritage

In relation to family, heritage refers to the term birthright. A birthright refers to the rights or privileges that one has because of being born in a certain family or nation. Family heritage may refer to property or monetary inheritance. Heritage generally refers to something handed down from the past.


Family heritage may also refer to a specific tradition or culture passed down throughout the ages. Unfortunately, this can also refer to “poverty and suffering” that belongs to one by reason of birth.

Aspects such as an individual’s material status in society may be largely influenced by clearly defined inherited rights and traits, which some cultures may use as a way to implement rank in their governmental systems. Nevertheless, family heritage may also refer to the qualities of “honor, pride and courage” passed down through generations.

The Family Tree

Those who are interested in their own family heritage may want to trace their genealogy by creating a family tree. A family tree is a chart that traces the ancestors and descendants of a family throughout history and identifies the relationship of one family member to another.

Cultural Differences

Different cultures often have varying opinions of their perception of family heritage. In England, for example, the idea of family heritage continues to remain intact as the royal family still sits upon the highest pinnacle of the governmental structure.

In the caste society of India, the group or place in society that a person belongs to has already been chosen for them at birth. In this culture a person's station in life, the type of job they will have and who they will marry is decided by their socioeconomic status which is determined by their caste level.