I think about these questions a lot too, not sure why.It's really weird realising what shapes you. I'm pretty proudly Welsh. And yet what makes me Welsh? I was born here, my parents were born here. All raised in Wales too. Of my grandparents, only one was born and raised in Wales (another born but not raised, another raised but not born). Great-grandparents? Born in Wales, England, France, some raised in Wales. You have to go back another generation to find someone fluent in Welsh. (OK, that's technically the English's fault)
My surname isn't Welsh. My first name isn't Welsh. I don't have a cool Welsh accent. My dad and I are the only ones born and raised in the town we live in. So why do I feel Welsh? Do I even have a right to feel Welsh? How long do you have to live in a country to feel like you're part of it? How many generations have to live in a country before you can be patriotic?
I feel weirdly connected to my country as an "idea", but not so much as a "real life" thing that exists, lol. I think I've obsessed over almost every part of its history at one point or other (and I know a lot of it more than most). I do consider myself "patriotic" since I don't really belong anywhere else, and this is the place I'm most familiar with, and all my stuff is here, etc. so I care for it to be as best as it can be, because why wouldn't I? [I often do get obsessed with its politics and cultural struggles, even though I don't really feel very familiar with the culture itself a lot of the time, oddly enough].
I think what makes a country is basically two things:
- a shared "destiny" (or "future" if you want to be less dramatic about it)
- a kind of mythos about how this country came to be and what actually defines it and defines its culture. The actual history or reality doesn't really matter as much as how people perceive it, and the stories they tell themselves about it.
I think all countries have those kinds of myths (some more than others, and some very fragile countries have very weak myths [e.g. a lot of African nations]), and sometimes the myth is all that there is that keeps a certain country from collapsing into chaos and anarchy. This is a scary thought but I do think it's true, which is why I think a certain degree of nationalism can be healthy.
I don't really know or care where my great grandparents were from. I think I claim (shared) ownership of the culture ( + all the history) just by virtue of being born here, because why not really? 🤷♀️