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Getting Married, the Gitano Way

This weekend, two rather biggish weddings will be celebrated here in Mallorca. Mallorca’s most expensive wedding of the year, so it is rumoured, will be celebrated tomorrow at Es Fangar between the second daughter of the Eisenmann’s and her novio. Es Fangar is an impressive finca in a beautiful natural environment with a captivating landscape, even sporting its own small Capilla dating from the 18th century, and recently renovated with no expenses spared.

I am rather more interested in a Gypsy/Gitano/Roma wedding being celebrated today in Palma’s Pueblo Español between Kike Fernández Navarro and Ana Maya Crespo, and probably going on for two or three days after that. A few thousand Gitanos are living in Mallorca and probably have been for a few hundred years. 1,400 guests are said to have been invited for today’s do, including probably a few hundred from the mainland as would be the custom. Farruquito is said to perform at the ceremonies and Paco de Lucia is expected to play the guitar.

A Gitano wedding is governed by a set of rules and traditions that most of us are not familiar with. Certain formalities must be followed. Engagements and marriages signify the extension and continuation of the family. For this reason they are accompanied by great celebrations. Marriage signifies the Gypsy couple’s change in position as full and productive members of the community. All Gypsies are expected to marry. For many Gypsy tribes it is the parents, and not the young people, who arrange the marriage. Once the prospective wife is chosen, the boy’s father goes to the girl’s parents’ house and asks for the hand of the daughter for his son. Gypsy tradition maintains the institution of a bride price. This is a payment made by the family of the groom to the family of the bride. It compensates them for the loss of a daughter and guarantees she will be treated well. Once an agreement is reached the father of the future bride drinks a symbolic glass of wine. This means that the boy has been formally approved as a husband, under the agreed conditions. Following the formal agreement of terms, there is often a banquet, complete with music, singing, and dancing.

The mere fact that two people have agreed to live together and share their lives together constitutes marriage and no formal ritual is required. In Mallorca, the couple usually marries by the Catholic ritual in the morning before the wedding celebration according to Gitano rites. The Gypsy tradition stipulates that the bride and groom have to be virgins at marriage (although often the man is free to be a virgin or not, this being an individual choice). Purity is something that is exquisitely valued. The bride is subjected to a prueba del pañuelo, a virginity test carried out with a white handkerchief (see photo above). Once the test shows a positive result, known as the ‘three roses’, the bride will be showered with sugar-coated almonds and will be given a tiara to wear (see video below). If there is no positive result, the wedding will be cancelled.

The video gives a good impression as to how things are done the gypsy way, something that you and I will probably never have a chance to witness.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of infomistico.com. The video clip was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and lagitanarocketmail.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

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