The United Kingdom Gypsies are a fascinating lot to be sure. They are such a private community that up until TLC decided that their culture would make a fab reality show. We thought they were truly a thing of the past. Not so! Their numbers are pretty large overseas and statistics put them somewhere between 90,000 and 120,000 Gypsies roaming across the European landscape. The Gypsy population is comprised of two major subgroups: the Travellers and the Roma Gypsies. Roma Gypsies trace their heritage back to Northern India while the Travellers primarily come from Ireland. Both groups are nomadic and both groups have some pretty outrageous cultural traditions and rules.
We pretty much cannot get enough of these fascinating folks and their interesting lifestyle. They tend to hold views on education, courting, occupation and community that seem so vastly different than our typical views. Here are fifteen rules that United Kingdom Gypsy mommies have to follow in their culture. We aren't so jealous at their limited career choices or our parents choosing our husbands for us while we are still wearing diapers, but the fancy dresses...well we wouldn't mind flaunting some of those digs every now and again!
14 Moms Raise Their Daughters, Dads Raise Their Sons
Most of us work with our partners to raise all of our children to the very best of our ability, boys and girls alike. While all families function differently and to each their own, we wouldn't imagine just not teaching a thing to our sons because we were female and they were male. Furthermore, we wouldn't allow our husbands to just be completely hands-off in raising our little girls simply because they were female. In Gypsy culture, though, that is exactly what goes down in regards to specific parenting realms. The women are solely responsible for bringing up the girls and the men take on the boys. The thought of a woman stepping in to interfere with the parenting of her male child is completely taboo in this culture.
13 From Child To Housewife
Gypsy girls are raised to be housewives and mothers and never anything else. They are normally pulled away from their formal education around age ten or eleven and a new education of sorts begins. The young Gypsy girls are rigorously taught how to keep house, cook and raise children, which is exactly what they are being bred to do. The idea of a male Gypsy lifting a finger around the house if preposterous and apparently would shatter his manhood. Once married and grown Gypsy women will tend to the children and clean their small abode and that is pretty much it. If a woman has to work outside of the home to support her family she will most likely work on textiles or resort to begging.
12 School Is Not A Priority
Here in our corner of the universe, we would not imagine allowing our children to leave school before they entered their teen years. Gypsies, however, don't look at formal education like we do. It is commonplace for Gypsy girls to be removed from schools around age ten or eleven so that they can focus on prepping for a lifetime of servitude. There is also concern among Gypsy parents that their children will be overexposed to the outside world and the adults greatly disapprove of girls mixing with boys in public spaces. which is common in the public schools. Furthermore, travellers also spend most of their lives moving from one place to the next, which educational consistency a real challenge. Most Gypsies end up illiterate because of their lack of education.
11 Arranged Marriages Are A Thing
Both Romani and Travellers follow some pretty strict rules when it comes to who they can and can't marry. All Gypsy females are required to stay chaste until their wedding night, even though that is hard to believe considering they often dress like streetwalkers working the Vegas Strip! While some teens will meet their future hubby at social functions like weddings or other community gatherings, many have been betrothed since their earliest days. Gyspy parents often times arrange their daughter's marriages for them, although as they grow older they do have some say in whether or not they consent to the marriage ever taking place. Arranged marriages occur in plenty of cultures around the Globe, I'm just thankful that I wasn't born into one of those. Needless to say my taste in partners never quite matched up to that of my parents.
10 No Pregnancy Check Ups
Gypsy mothers have a higher than average rate of miscarriage and stillbirth and this is likely due to their aversion to prenatal check ups and care. While we Americans run to the doctor's office about ten seconds after we see two lines on the pregnancy test, Gypsy mothers leave it all to chance and fate. Not only are they raised to be wary to the outside, non-Gypsy world and its people, but their bodies are for their husband's hands only. Gypsy women become mothers at a very young age, often during their teen years and pregnancy and birth at a very young age can be a contributing factor to miscarriage. These women also tend to have a shorter gap in between pregnancies, which can sometimes lead to complications and sadly sometimes fetal demise.
9 Breastfeeding Is Almost Unheard Of
The benefits of breastfeeding your baby are certainly plentiful. We know that feeding your infant from your body can create better immune systems for them and help them to combat ear infections, allergies and asthma and respiratory infections. There are also perks for the moms including a decreased rate of certain types of cancers. Mothers in the Gypsy culture, however, aren't all that enthralled with the idea of nursing their young. In fact, it's pretty much unheard of! Breastfeeding in the United Kingdom as a whole hovers around 34%, but that number plummets when we are addressing only Gypsy mothers. Roughly 3% of new Gypsy moms will breastfeed their infants in the initial days following a birth but 0% of those women continue with that particular feeding practice after six to eight weeks postpartum.
8 The 'No Outsiders' Rule
Marrying outside of the Gypsy culture is highly frowned upon. If you are a Gypsy male, you have a very small chance of marrying an outsider. If a man does, the woman will be accepted so long as she adapts to her new way of life quickly. If you are a Gypsy woman, though, it is a sure bet you will be marrying inside of the clan. Because of this "no outsiders" rule, the dating pool is pretty darn small and it doesn't mean the pickings are great, which is why Gypsies find it perfectly acceptable to marry in their circle. This culture is an interesting one for sure as they see intimacy before marriage as a mortal sin as well.
7 Weddings Cost Big Bucks
Thanks to reality television, Gypsy apparel is probably the thing that these folks are best known for. There is no dressing down for a Gypsy woman, consider them the anti-Duggars. All major life events are marked with a gigantic, outlandish and expensive outfit. In this culture, the bigger the dress the better and this philosophy comes with a nice price tag. While we all know that Gypsy weddings are one heck of a party, so are religious markings like Communions. Young girls are dressed in gowns that are sparkly and poofy enough to rival the most outrageous Gypsy bride's dress. Little Gypsies often arrive to the Church in limos with their friends and are greeted by guests and members of the community. It's basically a warm up for the wedding day that will be coming up in a few years. So how much do these gowns set families back? It's hard to know for sure since talking about money is a major Gypsy no-no.
6 When It Comes To Family - The Bigger The Better
For most of the industrialized, modern world two or three kids to a family is considered the norm. In the Gypsy culture though they believe that the more children you have, the better. For the mothers of this secretive clan it is common to birth up to ten little Gypsies over the span of their lifetime. Not only do these people follow the Roman Catholic faith, but they get a real head start on the baby making compared to women in first world societies. While American ladies wait until their late 20's and often times 30s to become a first-time mother, Gypsy women enter motherhood in their teenage years right after they tie the knot. This gives them plenty of years to birth baby after baby, which is what they have been raised to do.
5 Using Fists Instead Of Words
Disputes within the community are often settled with fists and not with words. In our culture, we try and teach our youth that physical violence isn't the way and if they feel wrong or are suffering, then they should turn to a trusted adult for help and guidance. The Gypsy culture handles the sorting out of personal business much differently. They squash their disagreements by fist fighting with one another until someone drops. While the men are taught to put their dukes up from a very young age the women are left behind to wonder and fret over who is winning and who is coming home black and blue. These physical quarrels are a man's-only world and the women are never to witness this scene of brutish will.
4 Young Brides Means Young Moms
Gypy girls grow up shockingly fast. They leave school at an early age and are taught their place in the world before they hit the double birthday digits. Gypsy girls typically marry around age sixteen or seventeen, if they are twenty years old and not spoken for then they are pretty much considered old maids. Because they get a head start on domestic life, they also tend to birth their babies quite young. This role of wife and mother is a Gypsy girl's primary aspiration, so they waste no time getting down to business. Besides Gypsy parents prefers large families, so in their minds it better to start popping them out young and have plenty of years to grow your giant Gypsy family.
3 Their Home Is Their Reputation
Nothing comes above a spotless house for a Gypsy wife and mother. Their entire grown up lives pretty much revolve around keeping their tiny kingdoms spic and span. For a Gypsy Traveller woman reputation is everything, and that reputation starts with the condition of their abode. They often spend up to five hours a day scrubbing their trailers and can go through three buckets of bleach per week maintaining their clean as a whistle status. Romany Gypsies have specific rules regarding cleanliness that extend to personal hygiene as well. They can wash dishes in a tub of water, but then must wash their hands somewhere else. This is because they believe that one can only cleanse themselves under running water, not standing water. You won't catch a Gypsy mom relaxing in a hot bath after a long day of scrubbing floors.
2 In The Closet
Homosexuality is absolutely unacceptable in the Gypsy culture. Outing yourself can lead to your being shamed and ostracized by family and friends or even hurt by members of the community. Because this is a devout Christian-based society, homosexuality is seen as a sin and men are to be nothing if not the epitome of masculinity at all times. One gay community member revealed his lifestyle to his mother who pleaded with him to remain in the community, marry a nice Gypsy girl and "shag men on the side." We assume that homosexuals do exist in the pockets of Gypsy settlements as they do in all parts of the world, they just don't live out and proud like many people do here in America or other progressive nations. They are forced to keep their secret locked up tight.
1 Contradicting Values
One of the most perplexing and contradictory child-rearing practices in the Gypsy culture is how mothers raise their daughters to have extreme and contradictory personalities. Little Gypsy girls are expected to sass and rant, all while remaining pure and chaste and respecting their elders at all times. They can dress in itty, bitty clothing, and swear up a storm, but they can't witness the males in the community boxing. Their dainty little eyes are protected from watching such a fiasco, but clearly their ears are wide open. It's totally acceptable for ten-year-old girls to be foul-mouthed, but it is forbidden that they ever talk back to their parents and must forever remain submissive to their husbands.