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Thread: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

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    Christian,Mom,Teacher mom2's Avatar
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    My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Did anyone catch the 2 premieres of this show? I have so many questions ... some are below:

    1. What is the legal age that kids can be married in England? (I think all of these are in England, right?)

    2. If one of them purchased the land, how can they be kicked off and their rvs destroyed? That one baffles me the most. How can they be forced off if they own the land? (Is this my American view coming out here?)

    3. Where are the parents guarding their girls from being 'grabbed', especially if they are not willing?

    4. Why in the world are these dresses not considered abuse, especially for the young girls going to communion? I mean the ones that bruise them.

    5. What - if any - is the difference between a Gypsy and a Traveler?? They said the new laws made them change their ways and settle in areas longer. I would like more information.

    I'm hoping others are watching ... I guess this already aired in England, and we're just now getting to see it.
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    FORT Fogey nanarama's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I watched and was puzzled also by many of the things I saw.
    As far as the land is concerned, maybe they didn't have the necessary permits for all the travel trailers to be on the land. (Or it wasn't zoned for that use.)
    I own a bridal shop so the dresses really blew me away. Aside from the bruising (and sometimes, bleeding,) I was astounded that girls were getting married in dresses in which they couldn't even walk down the aisle! (The second bride.) It seems like the whole thing has become a competition for them with no regard to style, class or function. I always hear that it's important for my brides to be comfortable on their wedding day. They want to be able to dance, sit and move. It's hard to comprehend the level of discomfort those gypsy/traveler brides are enduring.
    The other thing that got to me was how sexual they dressed and danced - while maintaining their chastity. To see teenagers dresses liked hookers and dancing erotically was disturbing enough. To know that they're doing this and staying virgins till marraige (which I applaud,) seemed weird. Very mixed messages.
    I also wondered what the divorce rate would be for those very young marraiges.
    Overall, it was hard to relate to them but I found it facinating, nonetheless.

  3. #3
    Read The Clue Bearcata's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Gypsy and Traveler Culture in America - The Gypsy Lore Society

    Gypsy and Traveler Groups in the United States

    Cale: Spanish Gypsies, or Gitanos, are found primarily in the metropolitan centers of the East and West coasts. A small community of only a few families.

    English Travelers: Fairly amorphous group, possibly formed along same lines as Roaders (see below), but taking shape already in England before their emigration to the US starting in early 1880s. Associate mainly with Romnichels. Boundaries and numbers uncertain.

    Hungarian-Slovak: Mainly sedentary Gypsies found primarily in the industrial cities of northern U.S. Number in few thousands. Noted for playing "Gypsy music" in cafes, night clubs and restaurants.

    Irish Travelers: Peripatetic group that is ethnically Irish and does not identify itself as "Gypsy," although sometimes called "Irish Gypsies." Widely scattered, but somewhat concentrated in the southern states. Estimates vary but about 10,000 should be close to the actual numbers.

    Ludar: Gypsies from the Banat area, also called Rumanian Gypsies. Arrived after 1880. Have about the same number of families as the Rom, but actual numbers are unknown.

    Roaders or Roadies: Native born Americans who have led a traveling life similar to that of the Gypsies and Travelers, but who were not originally descended from those groups. Numbers unknown as not all families studied.

    Rom: Gypsies of East European origin who arrived after 1880. Mostly urban, they are scattered across the entire country. One of the larger groups in the US, possibly in the 55-60,000 range.

    Romnichels: English Gypsies who arrived beginning in 1850. Scattered across the entire country, but tend to be somewhat more rural than the other Gypsy groups. Many families are now on their way to being assimilated, hence estimation of numbers depends on criteria used.

    Scottish Travelers: Ethnically Scottish, but separated for centuries from mainstream society in Scotland where they were known as Tinkers. Some came to Canada after 1850 and to the United States in appreciable numbers after 1880. Over 100 distinct clans have been identified but total numbers not known.

    Sinti: Little studied early group of German Gypsies in the United States consisting of few families heavily assimilated with both non-Gypsy and Romnichel populations. No figures are available.

    Yenisch: Mostly assimilated group of ethnic Germans, misidentified as Gypsies, who formed an occupational caste of basket makers and founded an entire community in Pennsylvania after their immigration starting 1840. Because of assimilation current numbers are impossible to determine.

    This inventory leaves out several Gypsy groups that have immigrated since 1970 due to the unrest and renewed persecution in Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism. They have come from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavian area, and possibly other countries. They number in few thousands by now, but their numbers are likely to increase.
    I noticed when I was traveling in Ireland that the Travelers were very Caucasian looking while in Europe the gypsies our tour guides always pointed out were very slight of build, shorter in height then the average population and had a complexion more like a person from the Indian subcontinent. So I googled to try to find a definition and found the above site which identified several groups under the term gypsy.
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    Read The Clue Bearcata's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by mom2 View Post
    Did anyone catch the 2 premieres of this show? I have so many questions ... some are below:

    1. What is the legal age that kids can be married in England? (I think all of these are in England, right?)

    2. If one of them purchased the land, how can they be kicked off and their rvs destroyed? That one baffles me the most. How can they be forced off if they own the land? (Is this my American view coming out here?)

    3. Where are the parents guarding their girls from being 'grabbed', especially if they are not willing?

    4. Why in the world are these dresses not considered abuse, especially for the young girls going to communion? I mean the ones that bruise them.

    5. What - if any - is the difference between a Gypsy and a Traveler?? They said the new laws made them change their ways and settle in areas longer. I would like more information.

    I'm hoping others are watching ... I guess this already aired in England, and we're just now getting to see it.
    UK is 16. Varies in other parts of Europe from 13 in Spain to 18 in Turkey. The average age of consent in Europe is 15 or 16. Each country has slightly different laws. Rules can be different for opposite sex and or same sex.

    BTW when I was still living in Pennsylvania one of the high school teachers married one of his students with the girl's mother's permission and she was only 14. It was legal. An old law that was still on the books from "Colonial Times". Even here the the USA age of consent varies from state to state. What is interesting is many states you can have sex under the age of 18 but you still can not drink.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Christian,Mom,Teacher mom2's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Thanks Bearcata ... I had no idea. I saw an episode of Criminal Minds where a traveling group kidnaps a young girl to raise with their young son and murders the girl's family to ensure her loyalty to them. Then there was the Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Goren and Eames and the Traveling people whose patriarch murdered his sister to keep his law-breaking secret.

    I hope this series continues, and they go to several countries including the US.

    That's the sum total of my knowledge of Gypsies/Travelers.
    "Quotes on the internet may not be accurate." - Abraham Lincoln

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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by nanarama View Post
    I watched and was puzzled also by many of the things I saw. As far as the land is concerned, maybe they didn't have the necessary permits for all the travel trailers to be on the land. (Or it wasn't zoned for that use.) I own a bridal shop so the dresses really blew me away. Aside from the bruising (and sometimes, bleeding,) I was astounded that girls were getting married in dresses in which they couldn't even walk down the aisle! (The second bride.) It seems like the whole thing has become a competition for them with no regard to style, class or function. I always hear that it's important for my brides to be comfortable on their wedding day. They want to be able to dance, sit and move. It's hard to comprehend the level of discomfort those gypsy/traveler brides are enduring. The other thing that got to me was how sexual they dressed and danced - while maintaining their chastity. To see teenagers dresses liked hookers and dancing erotically was disturbing enough. To know that they're doing this and staying virgins till marraige (which I applaud,) seemed weird. Very mixed messages. I also wondered what the divorce rate would be for those very young marraiges. Overall, it was hard to relate to them but I found it facinating, nonetheless.
    I've seen another documentary about the American version of gypsies/travelers (or gypsies/travelers living in America--I guess I don't know if they were citizens or not) and I was fairly surprised that this series didn't address directly the obvious sexism involved. The little girls at the their first communions and the young women at their weddings are dressed like dolls or rose bowl floats. It isn't about comfort or about what they'd prefer: it's about being a spectacle, being on display. The boys and men involved, however, were dressed far more for comfort and weren't displayed in the same way. It also wasn't just the teenagers dancing or dressing in such overtly sexual ways. The little seven year olds at their first communion parties were dancing and dressing that way. Even one of the little first communion girls had a short sheath style skirt on underneath her wedding cake topper dress and that's what she was wearing at the dance.

    In the other documentary I saw, there were also arranged marriages and the arrangements started when the girls were very young, with the understanding that they wouldn't marry until they were teenagers. But they were promised when they were as young as seven or eight, sometimes to boys their own ages and sometimes to older boys. That may not be the case with Irish travelers, but even if it isn't, I didn't notice any of the traveler girls expecting that they might have a future other than being a wife or mother. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, if that's what they want, but other options didn't even seem to be something they were able to imagine, particularly if the jobs were not among those traditionally considered "women's work" (beautician, dressmaker etc.).

    As for the divorce rate, if they're as conservatively Catholic as they were portrayed to be, they should believe that divorce is not an option--which is particularly scary, considering how young the brides are and how effectively the odds are stacked against young marriages succeeding long term. That's particularly frightening if leaving a marriage would mean having to leave the travelers' group as well. I have no idea if that's what would happen, though I suspect in the case of the non-traveler bride that if she ever left her husband, she would have no place at all in the travelers' world, since the series made a point of saying that she would never really be considered a traveler, since she hadn't been raised that way.

    I also think you're probably right about the land use issue. It was my impression that they had purchased the land but had never considered the zoning regulations, permits etc. involved in setting up what was essentially a trailer park. You certainly can't just establish a trailer park in a residential neighborhood in the U.S. unless it's zoned for that, and I would imagine it's the same in Great Britain. It also looked as if some of those structures other than the trailers were not up to minimum housing codes. I should think there would be plenty of reasons local governments could use to issue 28 day notices for traveler enclaves, though I don't doubt that there is some prejudice involved. However, to be fair, if a group of people bought land in my residential neighborhood and set up a bunch of trailers and poorly constructed buildings, I wouldn't be happy about what it did to my property values either. For a lot of people, their home is their major investment, and even if the travelers don't live or think like that, much of the world around them does, and they may have to learn to bend a bit if they want to set up their own non-mobile communities.

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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    rThere are some very interesting articles about the show on-line, including comments by actual travelers, some of whom don't mind the show and others of whom find it ridiculous and/or offensive. Responses to the articles from travelers/gypsies indicate that the culture isn't quite as separated from the rest of the world as the show would indicate--one woman, for instance, took exception to the idea that girls are not educated properly and do not hold jobs outside of the home in a variety of professions. Some comments indicate that the huge weddings are not necessarily the norm either, nor are they a long-standing tradition but rather a relatively new phenomenon, which very few travelers can actually afford.

    There are apparently facebook pages run by gypsies and travelers (who are treated as one sort of lump group by the show) protesting the show as well.

    As a side note to my previous post, I know that in some states, including my own, there are also laws preventing someone from staying in the same campground for months at a time, specifically to keep people from essentially living in their trailers in state parks year round. It doesn't stop anyone from moving from one park to another, but it does stop people from using a particular state park as their personal, year round trailer park--and from keeping people who actually are simply using the park campgrounds for the vacation purposes for which they were designed from finding a place to park their campers. Personally, considering our weather, I can't see how it would even be safe to live in a camper year round--if the tornados didn't get you in the summer, you'd still have to deal with the extreme cold and blizzards in the winter.
    Last edited by Tilden; 05-31-2011 at 07:28 PM.

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    FORT Fogey causingchaos's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Gypsy is an extremely derogatory word for this group of people. It would be like me and my girlfriends calling each other the B word but if someone else came in and started calling us that it would be very insulting.

    Anyhow, in the time I spent with the Roma community in Europe (albeit short but very intense) the culture is really unique and interesting. They are a nomadic people generally speaking but are generally very unwelcome due to stereotypes and what not where they go. Typically speaking they are treated as though they are second class citizens and are in some cases driven out of countries by governments. Children not allowed to attend public schools for example. Not allowed to get jobs etc.

    Since they are nomadic folks land is usually communal. Since they're kind of on the fringe and constantly moving they don't necessarily know all the land use regulations. Usually they'll live around the fringes of civilization due to not being allowed into the cities. Sometimes in a really sad little shacks.

    They have some traditional views on gender roles and some really catholic values like virginity. Which is why the kidnapping happens in part the other part is financial (dowry issue). Sometimes the "kidnapping" is more like the girl running away to be with a lover she wants to be with.

    Not all women are super traditional but many area deferring to the male for decision making.

    But anyhow that was my experience in the Balkan region with the Romani people. While it doesn't reflect the experience of all of them it is the reality for many of them.

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    FORT Fogey canadian_angel's Avatar
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I watched this on Sunday but mostly because I was so curious. There were things that I found interesting. One thing really bothered me though and it was towards the end (almost right at the end). The young girls were celebrating at the party barely dressed and dancing provocatively. I was appalled by that!

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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by causingchaos View Post
    Gypsy is an extremely derogatory word for this group of people. It would be like me and my girlfriends calling each other the B word but if someone else came in and started calling us that it would be very insulting.

    Anyhow, in the time I spent with the Roma community in Europe (albeit short but very intense) the culture is really unique and interesting. They are a nomadic people generally speaking but are generally very unwelcome due to stereotypes and what not where they go. Typically speaking they are treated as though they are second class citizens and are in some cases driven out of countries by governments. Children not allowed to attend public schools for example. Not allowed to get jobs etc.

    Since they are nomadic folks land is usually communal. Since they're kind of on the fringe and constantly moving they don't necessarily know all the land use regulations. Usually they'll live around the fringes of civilization due to not being allowed into the cities. Sometimes in a really sad little shacks.

    They have some traditional views on gender roles and some really catholic values like virginity. Which is why the kidnapping happens in part the other part is financial (dowry issue). Sometimes the "kidnapping" is more like the girl running away to be with a lover she wants to be with.

    Not all women are super traditional but many area deferring to the male for decision making.

    But anyhow that was my experience in the Balkan region with the Romani people. While it doesn't reflect the experience of all of them it is the reality for many of them.
    How interesting to hear from someone who actually has first hand experience with the culture. Much of what you've said echoes what I was reading on-line with regard to the way in which the show isn't necessarily an accurate depiction of the culture, particularly in terms of their marginalization and often resultant poverty.

    Actually, it's sort of amazing that the culture has survived at all, considering the odds against it.

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