|So ridiculous, and so awesome. Reality TV at its finest! (source)|
I really expected to see gypsies in Germany. In a country where multi-culturism has officially 'failed', that according to Merkel, I never ran into a clan of gypsies. We saw them in Rome, I encountered large families in Greece, at a distance. But they seemed to be even more of a stereotype. Think Esmeralda of The Hunch Back of Notre Dame.
But it wasn't until this year in Finland that we came across gypsies. I guess the gypsies really stand out here and we have seen quite a few traveler families out and about.
How can tell they are gypsies??
You really can't miss their 'traditional' dress. The women wear hoop-skirts in black velvet, accompanied by an apron and ruffle shirts. The men dress in dark black suits. Along with their olive skin and dark features, something you can imagine stands out in Finland, it all lends to their somewhat derogative name of Mustalasia, coming from the Finnish word for black: Musta.
|Traditional woman's dress (source)|
These are the Romani Gypsies, a distinct group that started in what is now northern India. The wandered the European continent for hundreds of years and were nearly wiped out by Nazi prosecution during WWII. The are known to have occupied Finland since the 17th century. Men traditionally held jobs as horse traders, but more modernly are involved in horse breeding, car dealing and scrap metal trading. Women continue their traditional work as fortune tellers or handicraft artists.
|Seen here at a fast food restaurant, Hesburger. (source)|
Check out this great gallery of Finnish gypsy photographs!
While gypsies are not fully welcomed anywhere in Europe, Finland doesn't seem to be one of the more racist countries. Yes, for those of you unaware, Europe can be very, very racists. I guess so can any closed-minded and ignorant person, no matter where they hail from. But still, gypsies were and still are to some extent discriminated against here as well. People seem to tolerate them around, although I can imagine they still get treated as inferior to this day. The thought from long ago is that they are lazy, not hard working and bring in criminal activity. While some might say this is still true, I think it is an unfair assumption to be born into.
|More shots of their dress, and the men in black (source)|
But for me, it is no big deal. I just try not to stare, but I'm nonetheless intrigued at how people living like this are still around. Fascinated might be a better word. If anything, I guess it is just one more thing that reminds me that I am still in Europe!
Doubled that baby up. Euro Vision and a More You Know Monday!
*Information gathered from: Source 1, Source 2