Gypsies vs Travellers: Difference and Comparison

Gypsies and travellers are confusing for many people even though they do not have much in common. The only similarity is travelling. But yet people call travellers gypsies and vice versa. There is not a lot of information regarding the travel history of these groups as it was not recorded in the past. The Irish travellers and Romani people don’t share the same genetic line, nor are they from the same place.

Key Takeaways

  1. Gypsies, or Romani people, have a distinct ethnic origin tracing back to the Indian subcontinent and have their own language and cultural practices.
  2. Travellers encompass various groups, including Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers, and New Age Travellers, who share a nomadic lifestyle but do not necessarily share the same ethnic or cultural background.
  3. Gypsies and Travellers face discrimination and challenges in accessing education, healthcare, and housing due to their transient lifestyles.

Gypsies vs Travellers

The difference between gypsies and travellers is that they have different origins. Although they are nomadic groups, they follow entirely different societal rules and values. They differ in their population, living style, bloodline, and areas of residence. The terms gypsy and travellers are quite confusing for many individuals. People make the mistake of calling someone a gypsy or a traveller because they travel a lot.

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Gypsies are people who originated from India and later moved to other European countries. They have their customs, beliefs, moral code of conduct and rituals that they pass on to their children. They maintain their cultural identity by interacting with their community. Non-Roma people are called Gadje by the gypsies.

Travellers are people who refer to themselves as Minceirs. They are an ethnocultural group. They constitute 0.7 per cent of the total population in Ireland. This group faces many challenges in terms of racism, unemployment, accommodation, education, and healthcare. They travel from place to place in a caravan and sell their craftworks. They don’t have a permanent home.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGypsiesTravellers
Migrated to Eastern European countries Ireland, The UK, and the USA
Language RomaniShelta
Religious OriginsHinduCatholic
AppearanceIndian Or Egyptian lookIrish look

What are Gypsies?

Gypsies or Gipsies are Romani people who belong to an Indo- Aryan ethnic group. They are nomadic people who got into Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries. The stereotypical connotations linked with the exonyms for these people in different languages were rejected in the 1970s. Their language is Romani. They have subgroups which are called “tribes” or “nations”.

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The Roma people live in America, Brazil, and Canada as well. The people migrated to these regions in colonial times. During the Second World War, Romani people were exterminated and imprisoned in concentration camps. Many were killed.

The culture and societal values of the Roma people are centred on family values. Men and women got married at a young age. Another rule is about virginity in unmarried women. Women in the community are given the responsibility of taking care of the children and family. According to their power hierarchy, the oldest man is the most powerful.

Their social behaviours are based on Indian social customs. Birth, menstruation, death, and body emissions are treated as impure. The family of the dead is also considered impure for a while. The Roma people bury the dead.

People in this group are mainly Christians. Some of them still follow their ancient faith. They were initially Hindus, and later when they migrated to various regions, they started following the regional religions. The Romani people are discriminated against even in Europe and are considered poor, antisocial, and inappropriate people. Roma special schools were started to reduce the bullying from non-Roma children.

Countries even took the initiative to relocate the community to their original nations. There are different organizations and projects for protecting the interests of the community, like the World Romani Congress, Gypsy Lore Society, and the International Romani Union.


What are Travellers?

The travellers are of Irish descent. They originate from Ireland. The majority of the people in this community are Catholic, as it was the main religion in Ireland. Their language is English and Shelta. Travellers are called gypsies even though they are not connected genetically.

Irish travellers live in Ireland, America, the United Kingdom, and Canada. They are called Pavees or the walking people. They have higher rates of fertility. They get married during their late teens. Marrying from the same kinship is common among them. They don’t have a religious ceremony for marriage. The travellers were recognized as indigenous ethnic minorities in 2017.

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The discrimination against this community increased suicide rates and mental health issues. They have poor health and education. Shortage of accommodation is also a challenge for these people. The people in this community did many traditional craftworks. They had special skills in tin-smithing.

The beady pocket made by the women in this community is famous. It is a handbag in which they store their valuables. They uphold family values and go on religious pilgrimages.


Main Differences Between Gypsies and Travellers

  1. Gypsies have their origins in India, but travellers are from Ireland.
  2. The Roma gypsies speak Romani and other common dialects in their community, while travellers speak mainly English or Shelta.
  3. With Hindu religious origins, the Roma people have a different culture and customs and are different from the Catholic travellers.
  4. The travellers look alike to the general Ireland population. Whereas the gypsies have oriental looks and dark skin tones and are similar to Indian or Egyptian people.
  5. The gypsies reside in Eastern Europe, and the travellers dwell in Ireland, the UK, and the USA.
  6. Gypsies migrated during the 10th century to different regions and were foreign to all the countries they migrated to. Whereas the majority of Irish travellers are from Ireland and live there itself.
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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15 thoughts on “Gypsies vs Travellers: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article highlights the historical and cultural aspects of gypsies and travellers with great clarity. Learning about their customs and societal values is truly fascinating.

  2. This article provides valuable insight into the challenges faced by gypsies and travellers, dispelling misconceptions and highlighting the discrimination they encounter.

    • Absolutely, Adele. It’s important to recognize and address the systemic issues that perpetuate inequalities faced by these communities.

  3. The comparison table was very helpful in distinguishing the origins and characteristics of gypsies and travellers. It’s evident that they are distinct groups with unique identities.

  4. This article does a comprehensive job of laying out the differences between gypsies and travellers. It’s important to address stereotypes and provide accurate information.

    • Absolutely, Bethany. The prejudices and misconceptions against these groups are deeply ingrained, and the only way to combat them is through education and understanding.

  5. I appreciated the in-depth exploration of the societal values and customs of gypsies and travellers. It’s crucial to understand the complexities within these communities.

  6. The article’s focus on the cultural and religious differences between gypsies and travellers offers a nuanced understanding of these communities. Education is key to breaking down stereotypes.

    • Definitely, Kirsten. Placing emphasis on respect for diversity and cultural differences can promote inclusivity and equity.

    • Well said, Kirsten. It’s essential to challenge preconceptions and approach these communities with empathy and open-mindedness.

  7. A well-structured and informative article. It’s crucial to raise awareness about the discrimination and challenges that gypsies and travellers face due to societal misconceptions.

    • I completely agree, Jeremy. Understanding the cultural and ethnic differences between these groups can shed light on the inequalities they experience.

  8. This article effectively underscores the need to address discrimination and challenges faced by gypsies and travellers. Sharing accurate information and promoting understanding is crucial.


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