10 Things You Need To Know About Gypsies and Travellers

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, the smash hit UK reality series, attracted an incredible 8.7 million viewers each week when it went to air on Channel 4.

The show not only became a national addiction, it also created widespread debate about this secretive and often-misunderstood community.

But aside from the extravagant jewel-encrusted dresses and big hair, how much do you really know about Gyspies and Travellers?

Here are 10 key things to get you started -

1. There are two types of Gypsies – Roma Gypsies and Irish Travellers. Both have a nomadic lifestyle but are separate ethnic groups.

2. There is much debate about their history, however Romany Gypsies are said to have their roots in India and came to Europe in the 13th century, while Travellers are mainly of Irish origin.

3. Irish Travellers used to be referred to as ‘tinkers.’ A tinker is a skillful person that mends pots, pans and plates of locals as they move from place to place. Travellers refer to non-travellers as “settled people”.

4. Travellers used to be okay with being called ‘gypsy; until the word ‘gypo’ became a common insult. The term ‘pikey’ is also very offensive to Travellers (comes from the word ‘pike’). They often call each other ‘pavees’ among themselves.

5. Some Travelling communities use a language known as the Cant or ‘Shelta’. It includes ‘back slang’ words such as ‘gop’, for kiss, which is a reversal of the Irish word “pog”.

6. Woman are conisdered ‘on the shelf’ at 20 and many Traveller women marry as teenagers. Many Traveller men expect their wives to be virgins when they marry.

7. Young traveller girls have a strict Roman Catholic upbringing. Talking back to elders is unacceptable.

8. Large families are still very much the norm, with some couples having over 10 children.

9. While there are no official statistics for Travellers in the UK, there are an estimated 300,000 based on local government caravan counts.

10. While the original Irish Travellers lived in horse-drawn wagons and travelled, most today live in caravans on official sites provided by a local authroity.

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23 comments
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Posted by Anon3 •13w ago • Report
My daughter is dating a traveller and they are both nearly 16. He is a great kid and we really don’t care about his background but his family don’t like him dating outside the community. My daughter and her boyfriend go to school together and he wants to leave his community as soon as he is 16 and get away because he is so unhappy. I feel for him because his mum is desperately trying to keep him in the community and he is pulling away. She wants him to date traveller girls and he is not interested. She wants him to leave school and start a trade he wants to do his A Levels. The family have not met my daughter and the kids are very close it’s heartbreaking, but I would likely help but don’t know what to expect. He came to my daughter birthday party the weekend and is now grounded cos he wanted to stay at a friends and was demanded home but he was having a panic attacked as he was so scared to go. He wouldn’t tell my daughter what happened when he got home. He has a huge group of friends at school and is very protected by them, but some advise would be great. I don’t want him to walk away from his family and would prefer it to be done in away that they accept his decision and he has a relationship with his family, but I don’t know much about the community to know if this is possible. I know as a mother I would to wanna lose either my children.
Posted by Natalie1120Report
some of r ten things need to know are very wronge about travellers i am one and i am married with kids u need to stop listning to kids and start speaking to adults . thanks.
Posted by Emy-LouReport
To ya gel wats 12 i take it yas gorje? Dont marry him cos i can tell ya wat will happen, ya mam n daddy wont let ya for 1 n ya aint even 16 bet ya cnt even Hoover lol dnt be havin kids neither cos then no one will want ya wen he leaves ya n it will mess ya life up, jst go find yaself a nice gorje boi instead lol x
Posted by Emy-LouReport
Idk how to use this lol but to all em gels sayin they wanna be a gypsy wife of watever, no ya dont u dinlows i dnt fink u understand how hard it is yano spend ya life doin it n i bet yas be wishin u were gorje gels?? no disrespect am proud to be a gypsy yano x
Posted by Emy-LouReport
Am a gypsy gel n i fink u got some of ya facts wrong ya fool??
Posted by Report
it is an awsome show i love gyspies and travelers because thier awsome and cool i consider myslef a gyspy so there ha. :)
Posted by Report
U cant just bcom one of us u hav to b born into the culture
Posted by Gypsy-johnReport
I'm a gypsy a Roma gypsy and most people think where bad people where are not we love to party and dance and sing and have fun no courses and scamming that's old time 1700s now we our just like any other race of people ya there's bad ones but there's more good ones
Posted by Report
Could you elaborate on this thing called "barenuckle boxing" and how common it is in your culture now?
I actually find it interesting.
Posted by Report
ok I have a question for you. a boy at is a gypsy asked me to marry him what should I say because me and him are 12 year old. and his dad wants us to have kids. so should I say yes or no?