Saturday, March 3, 2012

My big fat gypsy wedding

This item is, for me, completely off topic, but I couldn't get it out of my head.

I am a downloader, a big one. I hardly ever watch regular television anymore, apart from the news. I download my favorite series and films and watch them at a time it suits me.
A few weeks ago I came across a series called "My big fat gypsy wedding". A documentary series on Roma and Travellers in the UK and Ireland. I got curious and downloaded season 1.

We all know there exist societies within societies, with their own customs and social rules. We KNOW it, but when you look closer, you feel you don't know anything at all! Sometimes you see things that are so far from your own world that you have difficulties taking in what you are looking at.
This happened to me when I watched these documentaries.

At first you go like "Nooo, this isn't real", "This isn't possible", "This is so tacky". Then I realized it wasn't up to me to judge. I was looking at the lives of a group of people, who opened up to the world for the first time, and I was just a spectator. They were not looking for my approval.

After having watched a few episodes I started seeing the social codes behind the big dresses and the extravagant weddings. How strict their society is regulated. The role of the women, and of the men. 

And what those big weddings stand for: most of the girls have two big days in their lives: their christening and their wedding day. On those two days they are the centre of attention, important. Anything goes.
As for the rest of their lives, they live in the background, sort of. They cook, clean (a lot!) and raise a (big) family. Starting at a young age. Most of the girls marry young: around 17/18. Which explains those big princess dresses to me: a young age, combined with the fact that Disney is favorite!

The men are bound by a similar set of rules: they are the sole provider. Whatever happens, no matter the situation, they have to deal with it on their own. No help to be expected or allowed from their wives.
Most of the time they are just a few years older than their bride and by the time they marry they are expected to be able to buy a house (with or without wheels) and provide for a starting family.

And, whatever happens: divorce is not allowed. However bad the choice you made at 16 or 17 turned out to be, you are expected to stay together, for ever.

I was also astounded by the discrimination they met! Wedding locations were cancelled time after time as soon as the proprietors found out their guests were Travellers. Grooms not wanting to be recognizable on television in fear of their business of job. Being thrown of the caravan sites over and over again.
No wonder they are so secretive.

I can go on and on and make a dissertation out of it, but it is better to watch and SEE, really look behind the big dresses and see the society they come from.

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