I’m a gypsy, we burn our dead family’s belongings – even if it’s worth £20,000 it has to go

A GYPSY woman has opened up about a tradition she and her family follow, which means burning their loved ones’ possessions – even if they cost thousands of pounds. 

As part of eye-opening Channel 5 documentary, Here Come The Gypsies, Romani gypsy Marie Rawlings reveals that it is Gypsy custom to set fire to their family’s belongings when they pass away. 

The show, which originally aired last year but is currently being repeated on the channel, follows Marie and her brother Leon as they prepare to lay their late parents’ memory to rest in the countryside. 

As the siblings, who were raised on the road but have since moved into houses, get ready for the ritual to honour their mum and dad, they explain what they’re doing and why it’s important to them. 

After starting a fire and camping out in a spot close to the family’s heart, Marie says: “Burning is a travellers’ culture thing.

“They wouldn’t like me to box it up and take it to a second hand shop, because gypsies wouldn’t like somebody else wearing my mum and dad’s stuff.

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Her brother Leon then explains more about the tradition, which some believe helps to keep evil spirits at bay.

He says: “When people die, you burn everything they’ve got. That’s the way Romanis are – that’s the culture.

“It dates back for generations, for centuries. If somebody died in a caravan, you would burn it.”

Leon continued to say that it wouldn’t matter how much the value, as it’s so important to him and his sister. He shared: “Even if it were worth £20,000, you still burn it.”

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The cameras then capture the siblings and wider families gathering together to mark the emotional moment, as Marie pays respect to her “amazing” parents and says it was the perfect send-off. 

It’s traditions such as these that Marie, who now lives in a semi-detached house Dorset, says make her proud to have traveller roots. 

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She explains: “I was born on the road and I’m proud to be born on the road. From a baby, I knew no different.”

Marie added towards the end of the programme, “I’d never change what I am, ever. I don’t think nobody should be ashamed of what you are.

“If you’re born a gypsy, you’re a gypsy, and you carry on being a gypsy.” 


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