Gypsies are a numerous people who have settled in many regions of our country. These are no longer the nomads who traveled around in a huge camp in wagons: the gypsies have long adjusted to the general rhythm of life and adopted the habits of their habitat, but at the same time preserved the traditions of their people, language, culture and moral canons.
At the heart of all gypsy traditions, there is an unconditional preservation of family cohesion. Tabor is the first association with this people. Despite the fact that today only 1% of all gypsies lead a nomadic lifestyle, the tabor way of their existence does not lose its relevance. The community includes several families that are not always united by blood relationship. The chief here is the baron (leader). As a rule, this is a man of the older generation, who knows the language well and respects the gypsy traditions and customs.
The modern camp does not live under one roof. Each family has its own house. Romale prefer to build their own dwellings, adhering to the principle “the brighter and more, the richer.” The houses of representatives of this people in Romania and Moldova are considered indicative. Having your own walls is a sign of wealth.
In the traditions of the gypsies, the unquestioning rule of patriarchy is preserved. A man is an indisputable authority. A married woman is always in the background, in the shadows. Her task is to give birth, raise children and lead a life. The concept of “foulness” is considered habitual for romale – this is everything that concerns the lower body of a woman. Even the ground under her feet is perceived as unclean. If the family strictly adheres to the traditions of the gypsy culture, then a woman cannot rise in the house above the ground floor. It is considered a sin even to touch the skirts of a man’s clothes with the skirts. Also, you can not interrupt the conversation of men in the house or cross their path on the street.
The happiest time in the life of any gypsy is childhood. This nation has developed a whole cult of children. If you are a child, then you will be loved, pampered, entertained in every possible way, and given gifts. Of course, children also have responsibilities. From an early age, gender roles are demarcated: boys are raised as future earners, and girls are taught to do housework. Gypsy childhood ends early: already at the age of 13, girls who previously freely communicated with all their peers in the camp cannot walk with the boys.
The Gypsy tradition of having a large family simplifies the attitude towards adopted children. A boy is considered the successor of the clan, and if the spouses fail to give birth to an heir, they can adopt a child. They don’t care about nationality.
Register children late, almost already before the school itself. Education is mediocre. Learned to write and read – ready for life, then you need to focus on your future. Of course, the percentage of educated gypsies has recently increased, but this does not guarantee them a prestigious job. Those few representatives of this people who have reached universities most often enter faculties related to tourism and culture.
The most interesting tradition of the gypsies is the wedding. Young people marry early: a girl is considered ready to start a family at the age of 14-15, while a groom is chosen for her a maximum of 5 years older. If the parents cannot marry their daughter before the age of 19, then the attempts end there, and the girl passes into the status of an “old maid”. A prerequisite is an equal marriage, so the parents of the young are very responsible in choosing a couple.
Modern camps, although they do not roam around the world, nevertheless, lead a rather closed lifestyle, gradually expanding their numbers within one settlement. The camp grows, strengthens by family ties, and in order to avoid incest, they try to select new couples from different communities.
There are three options for creating a marriage. Usually the groom’s parents take 2-3 bottles of vodka with them and go to the house of the future daughter-in-law. If there is one marriageable girl in the family, then all attention is riveted to her, if several daughters grow up, then they take turns coming out to the guests and setting the table. If the matchmakers like someone, adults begin to negotiate with each other. The contract is fixed by drinking the brought alcohol.
Returning home, the groom’s parents begin preparations for the wedding. All expenses are borne by the boy: outfits for young people, treats, accommodation for guests. For the bride, they may also demand kalym, the amount of which sometimes amounts to tens of millions of rubles. Relatives of the girl prepare only a dowry: usually it is jewelry.
The second option of “matchmaking” is a mutual agreement between a girl and a guy. It has become popular recently due to the assimilation of gypsies with other peoples. The customs of the ancestors forbade any communication between the young before the wedding: the girl should have fallen in love and loved her betrothed after the formalization of the relationship. Modern romales make everything easier: first, the young begin to communicate in secret, and then the girl herself runs away to the groom herself on the agreed day, taking absolutely nothing with her. This is beneficial for both parties: the basis of creating a family is already the principle of love, and the guy avoids paying bride price.
The most persistent prefer to steal brides. Nobody asks the wishes of the girl and her relatives. The young woman is hidden from everyone until she reconciles herself and begins to live with her husband. Only after that, relatives are informed about the location of the missing person and family relations are established.
Gypsy wedding traditions involve a noisy celebration. It is always a big feast, songs and dances, but the paraphernalia itself is quite modest. Previously, a girl got married in an ordinary dress, and put a wreath of their plastic flowers on her head. Today, the outfits are much more magnificent and are necessarily decorated with gold embroidery. It is customary among this people: the richer the family, the richer the clothes of the bride and groom should be, the cost of which sometimes reaches several hundred thousand rubles.
The whole camp comes to visit the holiday. Everyone who crosses the threshold of the house is seated at the table, regardless of nationality and relationships. According to tradition, gypsies never have a toastmaster at a wedding. This is considered bad manners. The whole event is organized by the groom’s relatives, the head of the family or older relatives entertain the guests. A wedding is a kind of theatrical performance, where everyone has their own role. For example, parents of young people must necessarily bless the marriage with icons. The wedding loaf is prepared and served to the bride and groom only by older women who have a successful family life.
Considering that, according to gypsy traditions, a girl can be married even at the age of 12, young people live for a long time in a marriage that is not legal before the state. Before receiving an official certificate, the family already, as a rule, has more than one child.
A wedding, like any celebration, is an opportunity for parents to show their daughters, and for relatives of guys to look after the bride for their sons. The custom to lead a closed lifestyle is still preserved, especially for girls. Young people do not walk in the same company, do not go to discos. And only on holidays girls can show themselves in dance. The older generation is watching families, choosing a more worthy and rich party for their children.
It is considered a great sin if a girl marries not innocent. A young man can walk before marriage as much as he wants. According to Gypsy tradition, on the wedding day, before taking the newlyweds to a separate room for the wedding night, older women inspect the bride at the moment of innocence. All this is accompanied by songs and dances. The next morning, the same “checkers” again come to the young to testify to the accomplished act. The girl is already put on an “adult” outfit and a scarf is tied around her head. From that day on, walking with uncovered hair is considered a sin.
The family traditions of the gypsy people are very interesting and unusual. There is a custom: on the very first night after giving birth, a woman should sleep with her husband. If she does not do this, then, as the legend says, in the future she will cheat on her spouse, and this is an unforgivable sin, for which they are expelled from the camp.
The improvement of the house and the creation of comfort are the duties of a woman. Many mistakenly think that romale dwellings are a mini-campus in an apartment where dirty children are always scurrying about and a lot of things are lying around. In fact, gypsies are excellent housewives.
In the customs of the gypsy people to build large houses. From a practical point of view, this is quite reasonable: a large family lives under one roof, often together with the older generation. Untouchable law – the youngest son always remains to live with his parents.
Gypsies build houses on several floors, decorate them with fundamental decor. Often it is stucco and even statues. Gilding is welcome: the main thing is that beauty is visible from afar.
The interior decoration is more modest. The main place is considered a large room for guests. A sofa and armchairs are usually placed here, leaving a maximum of free space. Guests are received in the kitchen at a large table. The house should have many sleeping places so that not only household members, but also guests can accommodate.
In clothing, the gypsies still adhere to the customs of their Hindu ancestors. The national costume of men is dark trousers combined with a bright shirt under the belt. Traditional shoes are high boots. The headgear is a wide-brimmed hat.
Women, however, retained the habit of wearing long skirts. There are three of them: lower (underneath), casual and apron skirt. All of them are put on top of each other. Gypsies have an interesting tradition associated with this wardrobe item: skirts are not washed with other things. For the upper apron, you can use a common trough, and for the lower (rear) skirts, separate dishes for washing are generally provided. Also, women’s and men’s things are never mixed: this is due to the belief about “foulness”. Girls under the age of 13 can wear trousers, while older girls wear only women’s clothing. A married woman should always have a headscarf on her head.
The man provides for the family. The occupations of the community are determined by its internal structure. In the Tver region, gypsies-kotlyars have taken root: they have preserved the tradition of making household items from iron. They used to make boilers, which is why the name “kotlyar” came from. Today, skilled men are engaged in woodworking, making iron products. They are hired for construction, although employers are reluctant to hire gypsies.
Women have the hardest time. The prejudices about thieving associated with this people do not allow Romale to get a decent job, even for those who have an education. Most often, they are forced to earn a living, adhering to family ties. Basically it’s trading.
Most of the gypsies are Christians, but there are also Buddhists and even Jews. In each faith, this people brings something of its own. Orthodox people revere St. Nicholas and George the Victorious, Catholics – Blessed Seferino. The gypsies also have their own saint Sarah Kali, originally from Egypt. According to legend, she was a servant under Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary and once saved them while traveling in a boat on a stormy sea. Some representatives of this people still believe that their ancestors were great pharaohs.
Russian Romale are very devout. They definitely equip the “red corner” in the house, as they did in Russia. Young people are crowned after a traditional wedding: without a ceremony, marriage is not recognized in the camp. Families celebrate Easter and Christmas with special attention.
The Vlachs, whose main occupation was blacksmithing, revere Radonitsa. On this day, women go to cemeteries and beg. For this ethnic group, such an activity has a good meaning: they help other Christians distribute alms in memory of the souls of deceased relatives.
At the same time, piety does not prevent Romale from stealing. They justify this obscene occupation with the legend that God himself allowed the gypsies to steal as a token of gratitude for the help of this people to Christ himself. When Jesus was being prepared for execution, gypsies passed by and stole one nail, thereby postponing the tragic moment.
The gypsy people are attracted by their originality: they managed not only to preserve the traditions of their ancestors, but also not to obey the rhythm of the modern world.