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Romani Gypsies Marrying as Minors

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In the Romani Gypsy culture getting married is a big event to celebrate the extension of the family. This is normally a three day event. One is the church ceremony where they hold hands in front of elders who bless them with bread and salt, the consummation where they might ask for proof with the blood stained sheet to prove her purity, then the party in their honor where dancing and music takes place all night long. Most of Roma marriages are arranged by the parents and some even before the children have been born.

Some tribes will ask for a dowry, which is an agreed price, for the bride who is now going to be living with the husband’s family. The reason she moves in with the husband is because in their culture the wife stays home and cares for the house and children so now she is in charge of caring for her new husband and his family. It is frowned upon to marry outside the Roma culture but there is an exception if a male chooses a non-Roma or gadji and she may eventually be excepted if she abides by the Roma ways.

When I first heard about gypsies it was on TV typical stereo typed low life gypsy people. Then years go by they are on TV with their own show called “My big fat Gypsy Wedding” and I will admit I watched a few never really trying to understand their culture more intrigued by all the money they blow on dresses and cakes. Now actually having a reason to look further into their culture I am a bit shocked. I knew they married as minors and to me that isn’t a big deal because that’s just how they are raised.

Would I let my children marry as a minor, no but that is how I choose to raise my children. What really took me by surprise were the parents picking who they marry and then they don’t have any other choice. When I watched the TV series it was not like that, so as I dug further I found different tribes all have different traditions and that is why the parents choose the marriage to keep the society pure. Makes a little more sense but still seems obscure to me. The real hook in the lip was the dowry for the bride.

I heard wise tails about trading in a cow for the daughter and such things but I never once thought it to be real. I am blown away and just lost for words. I grew up in Minnesota my whole life and have seen classmates get engaged at a young age and we would sit and talk about how we couldn’t wait to be 18 so we could marry that special someone. Even though the law does state you must be 18 to be legally married the Romanains authority looked the other way back in 2003 for the wedding of Cristofer and Regina.

Here if we want to marry as a minor you must have your parents sign a document allowing you to do so. The Roma view purity as a must and to be married impure would be a disgrace among the whole family. In America you can almost count on most teens having pre-marital sex. Being of the Catholic faith they too say you should be pure when getting married and the white dress at the wedding is a symbol of that. Once the Roma couple is wed and the consummation has been done she might be asked to show the blood stained gown as proof, or symbol, of her purity.

I was raised to wait until I was 16 to start dating, but when everyone else is in a relationship you feel left out you go behind your parents back. Unmarried Roma children are not allowed to mingle with the opposite sex alone because they feel the woman’s chastity of great value. Also the Roma respect their elders and very seldom do they show disrespect towards them. Now coming from a very small town I can personally say I did not respect my parents while growing up, not because I was a bad child but a lot of family issues were taking place and not one of us were in the right state of mind.

I now know what it feels like to be disrespected by my child even though she is still very young, and we are trying to teach her right from wrong. I feel that the American culture is a lot more disrespectful then the Roma culture. With that being said, my question to you would be. Would you rather live in a culture that shows 100% respect but forced to marry who your parents decide, or would you rather live in a culture who you know will disrespect you at some point and have children out of wedlock?

My answer to that is the culture with disrespect because I learned from my mistakes and I have the most respect for my mother now then I would have while she was raising me. I have two children of my own and I am learning real fast what a pain I was to my mother. I will now spend hours talking to my mom on the phone and I ask her advice all the time. My mother is the reason I am who I am today. The Roma culture is driven by traditions passed down from tribe to tribe. There is no written book of rules or regulations to abide by; everything is passed down by word of mouth.

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