The smash hit UK reality series Big Fat Gypsy Weddings 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.