… for a Dick/Babs fic that I will quite possibly (probably) never get around to writing. (Because I think that it’s an interesting aspect of his character which doesn’t really get much focus in canon, and could be utilized in some pretty interesting ways if any of the relevant writers were…
jgfjblkdbj I love you TEN TIMES MORE NOW. I have piles of research on Roma culture, but it’s more geared to their rights and how European laws apply to the ethnic group in modern times than ancient traditions - which, you know, kudos to you, given how fractured each pocket of culture can be. But if you need anything in that vein, tell me! Also, YOU SHOULD SHARE WHATEVER YOU HAVE WITH ME. AHHG.
I lost my shit when I found out Dick was Roma. I’m half Roma on my father’s side, and it’s a big deal to have it even recognized as halfway legitimate in any medium, even if the creators prob had no idea what that really meant at the time. ++
*flings arms around antiox* YOU ARE A LIFESAVER. AND AN AMAZING, AMAZING PERSON. Seriously.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, about my research: I’m sure that if you’re half Roma yourself, there’s nothing that I could’ve found out from a few hours of online research that you don’t already know, but I’d be happy to share anything I have with you! I hope you don’t mind if I come to you with some questions, because I seriously am starting out knowing next to nothing about Romani culture, and if I’m gonna do this, I want to do it right. (There’s nothing stupider than those stereotypical portrayals of ethnicity which the writers are so clearly patting themselves on the back for because it’s “diversity!”)
As for what I’m making with this: Like I said, it’s for a Dick/Babs fanfic I’m working on. I actually have a whole bunch of D&B/Batfamily plotbunnies running around in my head right now, largely due to the fact that I hate all things reboot (well, mostly) and so I keep thinking about the direction I would have taken these characters in, which leads to developing fully-fledged stories and plot ideas. Anyway, long story short, one of the ideas I had was to write a very simple, fluffy piece about Dick & Babs preparing for their wedding. Not the actual wedding, just them making the preparations, going through the guest list, talking about it, and so on (that sounds absolutely boring as can be written out like that, but you’ll have to believe me that it’s better than it sounds. I think. Hopefully.)
And like I said, I think Dick’s Romani heritage gets ignored all too often in canon, but I’ve read some fanfic (mainly by one specific author) where it was used absolutely beautifully. (Such as this story, and also this one and this one. Even if you don’t usually read fanfic, you should check those out, because, seriously: AMAZING. All of that author’s stories are amazing, actually.)
So I decided to try to work that into my fanfic, and so I started looking up information about Romani weddings, not just the actual customs but also their philosophy about marriage, etc. I didn’t have a clear idea of how exactly I was going to work it in because, like I said, my knowledge of the Romani is basically zero and so I didn’t even really know what I was looking for, but I just figured I’d do some research and wait to see what inspired me. Of course, I quickly realized just how completely out of my depth I was. It’s not just a matter of looking up facts on some website, I want to be able to really get into the Romani mindset. Like I said, if I’m doing this, it has to be done right. I can’t just look up some random custom and throw a reference in, I have to understand the meaning behind it, how a real Roma would look at it, and so on. Which is a pretty daunting task, because I don’t think you can ever claim to truly understand a culture which isn’t your own, certainly not without firsthand experience (something I completely lack when it comes to the Roma). The websites I was looking at had some interesting trivia, but aside from the fact that I wasn’t sure how reliable some of them were, I just felt like there wasn’t ENOUGH for me to really understand.
Soooo… time to hit the books! :-)
As to what I’ve found out so far: Again, I’m sure this probably won’t be anything new to you, but here’s a sampling of what I’ve read so far:
- The Roma have historically married very young, between the ages of nine and fifteen.
- Marriage is viewed as a significant coming-of-age rite of passage; a Roma is not considered a full man (Rom) or woman (Romni) until marriage.
- Unmarried boys/men are called Romoro, meaning “not quite a man”. Unmarried girls/women are called chavi, or “girl”.
- Marrying another Roma is considered absolutely essential in order to maintain social purity. However, it is considered better for a Romani man to marry a gadji woman than for a Romani woman to marry a gadjo man. If a Romani man marries a gadji, she may eventually be accepted as long as she adopts the Romani way of life; by contrast, if a Romani woman marries a gadjo man, the children may not even be considered Roma.
- Despite the importance of marriage, the official service itself is not what is considered important, and many Roma do not feel that it is necessary to have any kind of religious or civil ceremony at all. If the couple promises to stay with each other and live together, they are considered married. The ceremony itself is merely a celebration or formality.
- Romani couples do not refer to each other as “husband” and “wife” until they become parents; until that time, when addressing each other or talking about each other, they use only each other’s first names.
- Similarly, they do not move out on their own until after the birth of their first child, or sometimes several children. Until that time, both the couple lives with the husband’s family.
- A Romani wedding is called an abiav. There are several Romani wedding traditions involving bread. In one, the bride and groom each place a drop of blood on a slice of bread and then eat each other’s bread. In another, the family breaks bread (also containing some of the couple’s blood) over the head of the bride and groom. Salt is sometimes substituted for the blood. These rituals represent luck and prosperity for the couple (I need to do more research on this, but I’m assuming the blood represents life and the bread represents plenty, or something of that sort.)
- Arranged marriage is still common among the Romani. In most case’s, the marriage is brokered between the bride’s father and the groom’s father. Once it has been decided that the young man and woman are suitable, it is up to the parents to decide on the bride-price (darro) that will be paid from the groom’s family to the bride’s. The amount paid is dependent on how worthy the girl is considered, and there are complex proceedings to determine exactly how much should be paid. The reason for the bride-price is that after marriage, the woman is considered to have left her family and become part of her husband’s; thus, the husband’s family is in effect recompensing the bride’s for that loss.
- There is a reality TV show called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding which looks horrible in every possible way and should be shot.
There is WAY more to write, including a lengthy controversy over bride kidnapping, but this post is already 100 times too long and so I’m just leaving it at that.
And obviously most of this isn’t going to be used in my story, but I included it because I find it pretty fascinating and I thought you might, too.