International Romani Day 2023.


International Romani Day 2023.

On April 8th, we’re honouring Romani culture and raising awareness of the racial stereotyping and discrimination faced by the Romani people.

International Romani Day was declared for the first time in 1990, after the fourth World Romani Congress in Serock, Poland. This meeting was attended by Romani delegates from all over Europe, and formed a political agenda with the intent to achieve emancipation and equality for the Roma, as well as the creation of an official flag and anthem (Gelem, Gelem).

To celebrate, we’re putting together a display full of books and online resources for you to find out more about this fascinating community, so come on down to Augustine House!

Who are the Romani People?

The Romani are a traditionally nomadic people, the vast majority of which are spread across Europe – particularly Eastern Europe. At an estimated population of more than 12 million, the Romani make up one of the largest ethnic minorities on the continent.

Modern Romani usually live in caravans or similar vehicles, but between the mid 1800s and early 1900s, they used horse-drawn wagons, or vardos. CCCU has its own vardo in Coleridge Gardens, originating from c.1908.

CCCU vardo, Coleridge Gardens.
Photo credit: Angela Starey

What is the difference between ‘Romani’ and ‘Gypsy’?

The word ‘Gypsy’ or ‘Gipsy’ is often used to describe the Romani people, however this moniker is usually considered an insult due to its origins as a racial slur. The term stems from the false belief that the Romani people originated from Egypt.

What language do the Romani speak?

The Romani have their own language, whose form is similar to Sanskrit. It has many dialects, and spelling or word choice can differ between groups. Most Romani are multilingual, but their own language is a point of pride and connectivity for the Romani people.

What discrimination do the Romani people face?

Throughout history, the Romani people have suffered from racial oppression due to their nomadic lifestyle and dark skin.

In 1554, for example, the English Parliament passed legislation that made being Romani a crime punishable by death.

During the Holocaust, the Romani people of Germany were registered, sterilised, and later sent to concentration- and death camps. Up to 500,000 Romanies were killed in a period known as the Porajmos, or ‘Devouring’.

Today, the Romani people are still subject to racial stereotyping, often caricatured as mysterious fortune tellers and cunning thieves. Many Romani report segregation and harassment in schools and in the workplace, as well as a lower standard of healthcare and education and repeated forced evictions. That’s why it’s so important for us to understand more about their unique culture and heritage, to overcome the stereotypes and recognise the struggles faced by this remarkable people.

Want to know more?


All change!: Romani Studies Through Romani Eyes
by Damian le Bas & T.A. Acton
Hearing the Voices of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities
by Andrew Ryder
Queer Roma
by Lucie Fremlova
I Met Lucky People: the Story of the Romani Gypsies
by Yaron Matras
Romaphobia: The Last Acceptable Form of Racism
by Dr Aidan McGarry
The Color of Smoke: an Epic Novel of the Roma
by Menyhert Lakatos & Ann Major

External Websites

Online art gallery for the 50th Anniversary World Romani Congress

Charity educational projects exploring Romani culture and development
Digital archive of Romani art, culture and history
Promoters of Romani arts, culture and historical experiences in Europe
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