Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Word Wednesday: Gypsy

My word for today is Gypsy, but that opened up a much larger can of worms than I expected! I wanted to just tell you that I have always been enchanted with the nomadic Gypsy lifestyle, and I have been called a Gypsy by more than a few.

However, it appears that I cannot just say that off the cuff without delving into some history and lore. I say I am a Gypsy at heart, and Mr. Nature always calls me one, but does Gypsy blood actually course through my veins? I doubt that...but, given that I am a mix of English, Irish, Scottish, French, German, and Native American, there could easily be something else mixed in there! They are thought to have arrived in England over 400 years ago.

So, who are the Gypsies? Those people of the circus who put children into sacks and cart them off as slaves? No, but that seems to be the general stereotype. According to the Gypsy Lore Society, Gypsy is a term encompassing several groups, but the Romany (or Romani) are the dominant group associated with the term. The term includes Black Dutch, Ludar, Hungarian-Slovak, Rom, and Romnichel. There are groups of Irish and Scottish travelers as well, but they do not identify with the name Gypsy.

The Gypsy people still encounter difficulty in their travels and daily lives, in part because it is not seen as acceptable in modern society to live a nomadic lifestyle. They do not own the land upon which they choose to stop, and this creates legal battles, especially if they travel in a caravan group. Additionally, they tend to commonly experience racial and cultural intolerance. More about these issues can be found at, here and here.

If you would like to build your own Gypsy wagon, you might visit Rachel's Gypsy Wagon or where you will read that Gypsies have only used wagons for about 150 years. Prior to this, they traveled on foot. Personally, I question that statistic, because in other places, the wagons/caravans are spoken of as "ancient," but Wikipedia also gives the origin year of 1810. A Gypsy wagon is also called a vardo or caravan. (Not to be confused with Vardø, which is a place in Norway.)

If you speak French, you could visit RouléRêve. Also, if you are vacationing in France, you can go here and rent one for your stay. COUNT ME IN! My fascination with all things Gypsy might be melded with my fascination for all things French. Maybe it is my scant piece of French ancestry, or the fact that my Spanish teacher in High School always called me "Frenchie" (but maybe he was just perverted?) or the fact that I WANTED to be taking French in High School, but it was not deemed the practical language by my parents. Whatever. I would be happy if I could learn to speak French by living in the French countryside, dancing around barefoot outside my Gypsy caravan, and immersing myself in the language and culture. But Francophile is for a different Word Wednesday.

So, to wrap this up, I have lived in 23 places during the course of my 37 years on this planet. My mother has lived in 37 places in her more than 37 years on this planet. Mr. Nature has lived in 17 places. Nature Boy, at age 14, has lived in 7 places. Amilia, at age 5, has lived in 3 places during her short years on this planet. Our currently beloved Deer Palace of the Homesteading is but one stop on our journey. If that doesn't qualify us for honorary inclusion to the club, then I am not sure what would.

By definition in The Free, we are in the club, even if not of the ancestry. (However, I could do without the aforementioned conflict.)
n. pl. Gyp·sies
1. A member of a people that arrived in Europe in migrations from northern India around the 14th century, now also living in North America and Australia. Many Gypsy groups have preserved elements of their traditional culture, including an itinerant existence and the Romany language.
2. See Romany.
3. gypsy One inclined to a nomadic, unconventional way of life.
4. A person who moves from place to place as required for employment, especially:
a. A part-time or temporary member of a college faculty.
b. A member of the chorus line in a theater production.

Now, who wants to donate my wagon so I can
get on with the book already?

1 comment:

*Stephanie* said...

I liked your post. On both of my parent's side, going back, some of my ancestors were gypsies. I have always been drawn to them and their lifestyle.
Unfortunately they get a lot of criticism and in some parts are looked upon as "dirty" and "undesirables". I say let them live their life the way they want!