Yo yo yo people!

So I've had a few experiences recently of American people introducing themselves as "Italian" or "Polish" or claiming to be "American-Polish" and things like that.

As the discussion progresses it turns out that:

* They don't actually speak the language

* They've never been to that country

* They only have US citizenship

* They have no connection to that country

* It was actually some great great great grandparent who was of that nationality.

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For a lot of us at the time, this was super weird, since in order to say "I'm X" over here you sort of either need to be OF that nationality, a dual national, or have a relative within your lifetime who had that nationality. Otherwise it's sort of like me claiming to be Danish because I was born in East Anglia and have blonde hair and blue eyes. But it seems to be widely accepted in the US?

Is this some kind of heritage pride thing? One of the Italians present was super unimpressed. They were basically like "so what you mean is, you really like pizza?".

Over here it's sort of accepted as an American idiosyncrasy, but can anyone offer any clarity? Or have we just run into some strange people?