Gypsy town

The gypsy people are an ethnic group of nomadic origin that arrived in Persia in the third century, coming from India . They were then called “sindis”, or “Hindis”. In the 11th century they arrived in the Mediterranean Sea , in Greece in particular, where they were called “Egyptians”, since it was believed that they came from Egypt , a term from which the word “gypsy” arose.

They have been known by different names: gypsies, ciganos, cigány, zíngaros, sinti, rom (or rhom).


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  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Arrival in Europe
  • 3 Human rights
  • 4 Racism against Roma
  • 5 The Nazi Holocaust
  • 6 Geographical distribution
  • 7 Culture and customs
  • 8 Social integration
  • 9 Sources



Indian origin of the gypsy people in the northwest of the Hindustani subcontinent.

The gypsy people ―or rromanò thèm― is Indian of origin and European and transnational of projection. The Indian origin of the Roma-specifically in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, covering the regions of the Punjab and Sinth – is shared by almost all researchers. According to the linguist Vania de Gila Kochanowski, in the 9th century Islamic warriors invaded India and the Indians living in the northwestern territories of the Hindustani peninsula undertake a great migration westward. The second migration occurs in the 13th century, when the today called Gypsies leave their homes before the arrival of the Mongol armies that conquer the territory. Since then the exodus of travelers is continuous.

Many of them then continued their displacement to Europe and their descendants are the gypsies of today. “The trades that these men exercised ranged from soldiers and farmers to artisans and artists. The famines, the invasions of the Huns, the Arabs or the the Mongols, wars and disorders, and the hope of finding better living conditions in another land led little by little groups of gypsies to travel in pursuit of the Sun, crossing the Bosphorus and reaching Europe.

Arrival in Europe

Greece and Armenia were important bridgeheads in this passage from the East to the European continent. By the middle of the 14th century , gypsy settlements were already detected in almost all the islands of the Mediterranean and in mainland Greece. According to some authors, the first European territory that the Roma set foot on was Corfu at the beginning of the 14th century . Little by little the gypsy groups spread throughout Europe . Depending on the customs, the geographical area they occupied and the dialect variant of the language itself spoken by the gypsies, the great gypsy groups that have survived to this day are being formed: kalé, lovari, sinti, kalderash and manouche.

The first Roma who arrive in Europe wander from country to country telling the most extraordinary and mysterious stories about their origin. The inhabitants of the countries they come to listen to them spellbound, but when the magic disappears due to the unknown they begin to see them as invaders, if not as vagabonds, criminals or atheists. From there, the history of the Roma is strewn with persecution, punishment and misunderstanding.

Human rights

Many Roma in Europe are currently facing dire situations in which their rights are violated and the exercise of their public freedoms is restricted. Many are stateless, refugees, political asylees and returnees as a result of the recent Balkan wars and events that occurred after the fall of the Eastern European regimes .

Many Roma in central and eastern Europe have to flee their countries in the face of the growing wave of racism and violent attacks that make them fear for their lives, being forced to request political asylum or refuge in the states of the Union . In most cases, the Union’s border authorities prevent these people from entering their territory.

The repatriation agreements signed between member states of the European Union and the states of Central and Eastern Europe in which refugees are treated as merchandise are also condemnable .

Racism against Roma


Discrimination and repression against the gypsy people.

Shortly after the arrival in Europe of the first gypsy groups, attitudes of rejection began to appear towards these strange characters who did not really know where they came from, who wore striking clothes and spoke an incomprehensible language. The red travelers, unlike anything the native Europeans knew, were despised and feared by the white people who inhabited the towns and cities where the gypsy caravans arrived. Governments echoed this sentiment of rejection and began to articulate repressive and racist policies.

In the fourteenth century there were Romanian gypsies who were slaves of the king, the church or the landowners. It was not until the 19th century that they would free themselves from this ominous yoke. One of the servile categories into which Romanian gypsy slaves were divided was that of the skopici: gypsies who were brutally castrated to act as coachmen for women of rank without risk to their husbands. In the extreme western part of Europe things were no better. The Spanish monarchs built a complete anti-Gypsy legislation stone by stone.

Racism spreads with the colonization of other peoples by the European powers. In the midst of the world expansion and discovery, Europe made scientific assumptions that promulgated the difference between peoples and, above all, the superiority of one over another. This superiority legitimized the exploitation of individuals considered inferior.

The Nazi Holocaust

The 20th century brought with it more calamities for the Roma. In central Europe the Nazi Holocaust was born , which devastated almost the entire continent. In 1934 the Nazi regime selects the gypsies to be sterilized with injections or castrated, in camps like Dachau or Sachsenhausen . Also in January 1940 the first mass slaughter of the Gypsy Holocaust takes place: 250 children are used as guinea pigs for scientific experiments in the Buchenwald concentration camp . The 1 as August as 1944 , during the early hours, 4,000 Gypsies were gassed and incinerated inAuschwitz-Birkenau , on a night that is remembered as The Night of the Gypsies (Zigeunernacht). It is estimated that at the end of World War II between 70% and 80% of the Roma population had been annihilated by the Nazis. More than half a million people.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 , gypsies are blamed, sometimes from official authorities, for many of the ills that afflict the states of the former Soviet orbit. As a result of the change brought about by the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, Western Europe is aware of the disastrous situation in which the ethnic minorities live in those totalitarian regimes.

Geographical distribution

It is very difficult to quantify the number of Roma in Europe . The current censuses offer little reliability due to the traditionally nomadic character of the Roma, which, although in clear decline, especially in some countries, still persists. For these reasons, all the figures given have to be taken with great caution.

Today the European Roma form a community of 10 million people. The majority live in Eastern Europe , specifically eight million, while the remaining almost two million populate the territory of the member countries of the European Union . The approximate number of Roma that inhabit the planet is around 12 million people.

Culture and customs


Traditional gypsy cart

Due to the dispersion of the gypsies, their culture and social organization vary widely. However, one of the outstanding characteristics is their ingrained sense of group cohesion and exclusivity, and the marked sacredness of their traditions, often contrary to those of the society in which they have to live. Contact with individuals outside their town is considered risky in principle due to the possible loss of identity that it can cause; This may be derived from the religious beliefs of their Hindu ancestors, although they admit to their bosom anyone who accepts their laws and customs. The influence of the Romani language, which is made up of several dialects belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-European languages, is another unifying factor.

On the religious side, some have adopted the religion of the country in which they live; therefore there are Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Muslims. However, they prefer to perform their rites in their own temples, in their homes or during the celebration of their festivals.

The different gypsy nations are divided into clans, each composed of different families related by common ancestry or historical association. Gypsies have a family organization in which the elders (patriarchs) occupy positions of respect and authority. Marriages are usually arranged and are the expression of a desire to create alliances between families or clans. There is a very strict sexual morality and it is still frequent that single girls go out with someone. Some groups maintain the custom of the ‘bride price’, a payment made by the groom’s family as compensation for the loss of the daughter and as a guarantee that he will receive good treatment.

Another important institution is the kris, an informal court that decides disputes and matters related to common law and Roma customs. In general, the Roma people hardly depend on the formal social structures of the societies in which they live.

In almost all places, and with logical exceptions, Roma occupy positions of little prestige and tend to engage in economically marginal activities. They tend to seek traditional occupations, including musical and recreational occupations, junkyard and metalwork, horse and cattle trafficking, street and retail vending, fortune telling and quackery, or handicrafts.

Social integration

The Roma are more integrated, culturally and economically, in the less industrialized regions of southern Europe , the Balkans and the Middle East. In the former countries of the socialist camp, some suffer from the current economic hardship; many have tried to cross the borders into Western Europe , where rejection is evident. They are almost everywhere under strong pressure to abandon their traditional way of life. In Spain most of the gypsies live in the suburbs of the big cities. Although the 1978 Constitution it protects equality without discrimination of race or social condition, living with this group shows outbreaks of racism and segregation by some sectors of society.


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