The English term ‘Gypsy’ encompasses a number of ethnic groups, in Europe they are predominantly known as the ‘Romani’ people, in India the Banjara, in Armenia the ‘Lom’ people and across Germany, Switzerland and France these nomadic families are sometimes called the ‘Yeniche’ people. Interestingly enough the term ‘Gypsy’ was originally spelt gypcian, short for Egipcien, many believe its roots lie somewhere amongst the rubbles of Middle English, French and Latin.
Regardless of country or even origin, the one trait that binds this ethnic group together is their steadfast refusal to identify themselves with a particular territory or country. They have few traditions and no place to literally call home – a result of their ancestors also being nomadic. Their history is one of constant movement and change, tempered with a fierce belief in being free from any country and indeed its institutions.
In America they are used as cheap entertainment in shows such as ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ whereby the very worst elements of their culture have been provoked, exaggerated, edited and broadcast onto reality TV – but to stereotype the actions of a few, as representative of a much wider community would be incredibly narrow-minded.