Despite growing up “half Italian, half Mexican”, my mom learned about a month ago after I took a DNA test through MyHeritage that the Italian side… well, wasn’t so Italian after all.
I showed up as 0% Italian, despite my great-grandfather immigrating to America from Italy over a hundred years ago; having an Italian first and last name, as well as speaking only Italian. Turns out, like America is now, Italy served as a melting pot; as did Spain. So while my Italian great-parents were from Italy and were culturally Italian, they weren’t necessarily Italian by ethnicity.
To make things more complex, these DNA tests don’t measure the exact percentage of your actual ethnicity, but instead, they reveal the more dominant genes that you adopt from both your parents. Therefore, for example; siblings can take a test and one can show 12% Irish but the other doesn’t show any Irish.
After finding out I showed up as 0% Italian, my mom got too curious and decided to take a MyHeritage test as well. Unsurprisingly, knowing what I know now, my mom’s test shows some decent percentages that didn’t show up at all on my test. I’ll place in bold font the ones that largely matched mine:
32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)
22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)
15.2% Sephardic Jewish (via Spain)
14% Middle Eastern/West Asian (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)
2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)
2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)
Thanks to my mom’s test results, I learned, in theory, I am about 7.6% Jewish, 7% Middle Eastern, 3.9% Greek, 2.25% Italian and 1% African.
Those particular ethnic traits didn’t show up at all on my DNA test; other than mine showing up 0.8% Middle Eastern. But clearly, my Middle Eastern DNA is very weak, whereas my mom’s is very strong.
So as for my mom, my sister, and me, we are definitely part Jewish, Middle Eastern, Greek, and even African.
If it weren’t for my mom’s MyHeritage DNA test, we would not know this.
Of course, that’s in addition to knowing we’re more Mayan/Aztec and Spanish/Portuguese more than anything on my mom’s side.
But the story doesn’t end here, because now, my sister has ordered a DNA test. In a another month or so, we’ll learn if there are other parts of our DNA hiding in there somewhere…