Since 1990 International Romani Day has been observed by the International Romani Union who had their very first official meeting in Chelsfield, UK, in April 1971.
International Romani Day was first observed in Serock, Poland in 1990. It was held at the site of the 4th World Romani Congress of the International Romani Union.
How to observe International Romani Day 2022
This holiday is observed by Romani all over the world in different ways. Some people observe the day by taking the time to learn more about their Roma origin, while people in other places might observe this day by throwing a big party.
Since the culture is strongly portrayed by its music, we can sample traditional Romani music. We could even celebrate with a musical party.
If you are part of the Romani culture you can share your Romani heritage using #Romani, #InternationalRomaniDay, #RomaniDay, on social media and follow to learn more about the day.
In the UK a gathering in Parliament Square at 11am on 8 April will celebrate Roma Nation Day. Everyone is welcome!
Famous Romani people
Some Romani people you may know are:
- Maurice Joseph Micklewhite AKA Michael Caine.
- Charlie Chaplin who was reported to have been born in a gypsy caravan.
- Yul Brynner AKA Yul Borisovich Brynner, who according to his own testimony, one-quarter Jewish and was one-quarter Roma.
- Pablo Picasso also had a Roma origin.
Romani in the UK
There have been improvements in the UK and the Equality Act 2010 says you should not be discriminated against because of your race. If you are a Romany or a Traveller, you may be protected against race discrimination. However there are still too many stories of racism against Romany people.
Grace tells about growing up in a small town in Lancashire and being surrounded by others who looked and sounded like her. She lived in a three-bedroomed, semi-detached house, in a sort of working-class normality. Except her family are Romany gypsies.
“My cousin was my classmate throughout my early years, and I remember a time when we both got bullied quite badly: somehow one of our classmates had found out and started calling us “Gyppo” in the playground. This only strengthened the idea that I should try to preserve and protect this element of my identity from the outside world.”
In her adulthood the racism has remained:
“ Racism and poor treatment against Gypsies, Travellers and Roma people is nothing new. Half a million Roma people were killed during the Holocaust, for instance. Roma are the biggest ethnic minority within the European Union yet often get unfavourable treatment and are very rarely represented fairly.”
Romani in Ukraine
Before and during the Russian invasion racism against the Romany people was also rife. Nataliia Tomenko, a Romani woman who works at the European Romani Institute for Arts and Culture is a member of the board and Creative Director in the Agency for the Support of Romani Culture in Ukraine and is also active as a coordinator of national volunteers and a defender of the human rights of Romani people in Ukraine.
As it is thought that Romani people are not receiving aid on equal terms as others in Nataliia is also sheltering internally displaced Romani people in her home. The Romani settlements in the western part of Ukraine are impoverished. “Nobody is taking care of them,” Nataliia said.
“They have no work now. Before the war, they collected scrap metal for sale”.
“Currently they are in an even more desperate situation. They have no money to buy food” .
Children and other vulnerable people in particular need help now and in the future:
“My message to the Romani youth and to the Ukrainian youth is this: Many people say they’re going crazy, that they’re overwhelmed. I feel the same way myself, but if we speak with the others, if we communicate our experiences and those of our families, people will hear us. So I am calling on everybody: Do not stay silent, speak up, because if you don’t speak up, nobody will aid you or your family”.
During the Russian invasion
Last week Slovak MEP Peter Pollák made a statement on the floor of the European Parliament (EP) expressing his concern about the information that refugees of Romani nationality who are fleeing Ukraine are not being treated as well as non-Romani refugees. He said:
“The suffering of the Romani women and children fleeing Putin’s tanks in fear is compounded by the unequal treatment they are subjected to, not just in Ukraine itself, but according to my information also after they enter the European Union.”
8 April is International Romani Day. It’s time to read and learn.
On the day that Jeffrey Archer was sentenced, the BBC Ten O’Clock News reported with that he had been driven off to prison in a van containing “a Gypsy accused of murder”. Consider the furore had the newscaster said “a Jew accused of murder” or “a black”. The scriptwriter would have been sacked. (The Guardian 7 Dec 2002)