MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

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)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

MyHeritage DNA Test: Comparing My Mom’s Results to Mine- We’re More Jewish and Middle Eastern than Italian?!

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)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

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.

And if you interested in taking a DNA test like my mom and I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

MyHeritage DNA Test Results are Back… But Do You Agree with the Results?

Either my DNA results from MyHeritage are inaccurate, or what my family has believed this whole time about our ethnicity has been inaccurate.

Currently, I am sort of baffled. I am still sorting out the confusion. My Italian grandfather, Alberto Victorio Metallo, whose own father arrived in America a hundred years ago from Italy and could only barely speak English when he died in 1983, was Italian.

However, my results from MyHeritage do not remotely reflect my Italian heritage. Instead, the test shows I am literally 0% Italian. I went through the trouble of looking up exactly what countries of origin my DNA traces back to, according to the regions that MyHeritage provided, and removed the countries in which the test showed I have no DNA connection.

Here’s my DNA:

Nick Shell

100.0%

37.4% Central Western European (Germany, The Netherlands/Holland, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland)

31.8% Iberian (Spain/Portugal)

21.6% Central American (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)

6.1% Eastern European (Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia)

2.3% Balkan (Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania)

0.8% Middle Eastern (Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan)

0% (England, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Scandinavia, Greece, Italy, Sardinia, EstoniaLatviaLithuania, Ashkenazi Jewish, Yemenite Jewish, Mizrahi Jewish, Native American, South American, Indigenous Amazonian, African, Asian, Oceanic)

My whole life I have had reason to believe I am one quarter Italian, but I was open-minded to the idea my test would reveal instead of being 25% Italian, maybe I would only be 12.5%, as my great-grandfather Joseph Metallo (the one who came here from Italy) married a woman named Maria Vite; who could have possibly been of French descent, based on vite being a French word.

(That’s my Italian grandfather pictured above on the left; opposite me, with my son.)

However, my great-grandmother also emigrated here from Italy and spoke Italian. Maria “Mary” Vite died at age 38 in the year 1938, so there is definitely some mystery as to her family tree. But even if she was 100% French yet born in Italy, my great-grandfather would have had to been mainly of Spanish or Portuguese descent and his family would have had to at some point adopted Italian names, including their last name, Metallo.

Even if the test was a little inaccurate, I would still think I would show up at least a little bit Italian. After all, Middle Eastern DNA showed up in me, along with Eastern European, but not Italian?

If you’re wondering why I show up as nearly a quarter Central American and nearly a third Spanish (or Portuguese), it’s because my grandmother (who my Italian grandfather was married to) was Mexican.

(This is her, pictured below, being able to meet my daughter.)

That actually brings up another surprise. By quadrupling my Central American DNA, which is 21.6%, that indicates my Mexican grandmother was actually 86.4% Central American, only leaving 13.6% (that’s close to one eighth) to be Spanish. Then, once I subtracted that 13.6% from the Spanish part of me (31.8%), it left 18.2%. I then multiplied that percentage times 4 again, to assume how Spanish my Italian grandfather must have been: 72.8%.

According to my theory, my Mexican grandmother was mainly Central American (barely Spanish) and my Italian grandfather was mainly Spanish (not Italian at all); leaving the rest of him to have been 9.2% Balkan (Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania). That brings my Italian grandfathers DNA up to exactly 82%.

Next I added the 3.2% Middle Eastern he must have been; now totaling 85.2%. That implies the rest of him had to have been Central Western European, which includes French.

This also means, by default, my dad has to be of Spanish descent as well, because there’s still Spanish DNA to be accounted for.

Most of my test makes sense. My last name is Shell, which in German, means “loud and noisy.” So that accounts for some of the 37.4% Central Western European.

But is this test accurate? Is it possible that I am truly not Italian at all? What do you think?

In the meantime, my mom is taking the test too. Being half-Mexican, half-Italian her whole life, I’m curious to know what the test says about her. We should know by October…

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

I Will Be the 1st Person You Know Who Actually Took a DNA Test to Find Out Their Ethnicity (MyHeritage Results by September 2nd)

Some people could care less about what shows up in their family tree. They will just sort of laugh it off with, “Yeah, I’m pretty much a mutt, I guess… A little English, a little Irish, maybe some German- I even heard there’s some Native American Indian in there too.”

But I am not one of those people.

Instead, I am Nick Shell. Therefore, I have always been fascinated by the mystery of my ethnicity.

I suppose I have somewhat of an advantage in that I know for a fact that all my great-grandparents on my mom’s side were born in another country:

Her grandparents on her father’s side were born in Italy and her grandparents on her mother’s side were born in Mexico. It’s just always been taken for granted that my mother is half Italian and half Mexican.

But I can no longer assume that every ancestor on my mom’s side was either 100% Italian or 100% Mexican. Besides, “Mexican” isn’t actually a race; as I understand that Mexicans are ultimately an ethnic mix of Native Americans and Europeans.

Over the years, my mom has reminded me of what she heard as a young girl, when she was around the Italian half of the family: “Just because we have the Metallo name and we’re Italian, that doesn’t mean that’s all we are. There’s other stuff in there too: A little bit of Greek, a little bit of French, and a little bit of Jewish…”

 

And before my Mexican grandmother passed away last year, she told me something I never heard her say before; that when she was a little girl, she saw family members “who had black skin and tight, curly hair.” I believe it is possible there is actually a few drops of African blood in me.

As for my dad’s side of the family, no one really knows. A few years ago, my dad received a book containing all the family tree records, but the names all seem to be predictably “WASP”: White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

But I won’t be wondering much longer. Because as of Saturday, July 22nd, I mailed off the DNA test I bought from MyHeritageThe results should be back within 4 to 6 weeks from that day; which would be August 19th be at the soonest, and September 2nd at the latest.

As you can imagine, I am looking forward to finding out the results! No matter what the results reveal, I am sure I will be surprised…

Even though I paid $79 (normally $99) plus shipping, I see there are running a special that ends tonight, on July 31st; for just $69.

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

Dear Holly: Both of Your Half-Italian Grandmothers

9 months.

Dear Holly: Both of Your Half-Italian Grandmothers

Dear Holly,

Everyone in our family of 4 is a quarter Italian: I am, Mommy is, your brother is, and you are.

That’s because both my Mommy (Nonna) originally from Buffalo, New York, and Mommy’s Mommy (Grandma) from near San Francisco, California are half Italian. I realize that some people honestly don’t give much thought to their ethnic background and heritage, but I definitely do. It fascinates me.

You have the Metallo genes on Nonna’s side and the Tocchini genes on Grandma’s. With your relatively fair skin and sort of strawberry-blonde hair, your Italian genes aren’t so obvious at this point. Yet still, 25% of who you are is traced back to Italy.

Last month, Grandma flew in from California to help take care of you for two weeks; as you had one sickness after another for so long. Then, the day after Grandma flew back, we picked up Nonna, who stayed home with you for a week. So for three straight weeks, you were under the constant care of a half-Italian grandmother.

We are very fortunate that we were be able to call both of your grandmothers out to Tennessee to take care of you.

No matter how good a day care is, it can never match what a grandmother has to offer. Not only were you spoiled for three weeks in a row, but so were the rest of us in our family.

Life is definitely easier when Grandma or Nonna is in town.

It makes such a difference to be able to have someone else there to help the balance of cooking, cleaning, and helping to care for you and your brother. Three adults versus two kids is a more favorable ratio.

But as for now, we’re back to normal/crazy. So much for chocolate cake waiting for us when we get home.

Sometimes life just has to be a little crazy. We’ll just be crazy together.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

10 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Last week, Mommy went on her annual overnight business trip to Washington D.C. Instead of me using my last two vacation days, Nonna and Papa came up from Alabama to watch you and your brother Jack while I was at work.

It was a perfect match-up: Jack had Papa and you had Nonna.

When I got home from work each day, I couldn’t help not notice that without him trying to, Jack kept entertaining you as he played with his toys.

You had a front row seat to Jack’s antics. The funny thing is, you just stared intently. You never really smiled while watching him, but you didn’t want to do anything else- just watch him.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

In fact, you stare so much at your brother he complains to me about it: “Daddy, Holly’s staring at me again!”

Nonna took care of you during the night, which perfectly coincided with you beginning to sleep through the night, at 2 months old. I am so happy about you sleeping longer, and I know Mommy is too.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

As I look through these pictures of you and Nonna together, it’s evident what a light complexion you have, especially in contrast to Nonna and Papa’s skin tone.

In particular, it’s interesting to see how such a pink-toned baby girl can come from a Mexican/Italian grandmother who is so much darker; knowing that even Mommy and I both have an olive-complexion, as compared to the lighter tone both you and your brother have.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

Something else I’m thinking about as I see these pictures… it’s helping to confirm my theory that you may end up being my little red-headed daughter. How amazing would that be?

We’ll know for sure once your baby hair completely falls out and your new hair really starts growing in…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

35 weeks.

Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

Dear Holly,

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, when people celebrate a strange tradition in which Americans pretend to be more Irish than they actually are; in a loose effort to honor a Christian bishop and missionary in Ireland, who was actually born in England and who was actually of Italian descent… not Irish.

With Mommy and me both being ¼ Italian, that makes you and your brother ¼ Italian as well. But because people celebrate where St. Patrick lived as a missionary, instead of celebrating his actually ethnic descent, we celebrate Irish stereotypes today instead of Italian ones.

That explains why your brother and I are showing off our green attire in this picture.

With today being March 17th, and your due date being April 21st, we’re only about a month away from your arrival!

(You are now the size of a honeydew melon and that fact is becoming very obvious; as I look at Mommy’s tummy.)

Obviously, my 35th birthday is on April 20th; which is when I want you to be born. I want to share my birthday with you.

However, the full moon in April in 2 days later on the 22nd, which also happens to be Earth Day. There’s a theory that more babies are born near the date of the full moon because of the stronger gravitational pull; like the way the moon affects the ocean tides every night.

So in my mind, there’s a decent chance you’ll be born on April 22nd. I suppose that would be a pretty cool birthday to have, if you can’t share mine on April 20th.

Mommy predicts you’ll be born on April 24th, because of her work schedule.

As far as Mommy’s pregnancy, she’s getting to the point where it seems there’s no comfortable way for her to sleep. I’m sure that only gives her that much more motivation to look forward to you getting out of there.

A month is not a very long time. It’s just a matter of weeks before we see you.

Love,

Daddy

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