Enormous, gaudy dresses and bling as far as the eye can see – it can only mean one thing: My Big Fat Gypsy…Christening.
Yes, it appears that after a lavish wedding, the travelling community is now eager for another reason to pull out all the stops by throwing a stomping party and dressing up in its glad rags.
And what better occasion to break out the pink frilly frocks and jewelstudded dummies than the day a husband and wife welcome their newborn child through the church doors and into the arms of God?
On last night’s one-off Channel 4 special, a dressmaker who has created hundreds of outfits for such special days told us that for her gipsy customers it was all a matter of class.
“They want their children to look like they came out of a palace,” she said.
It is difficult to imagine that Prince George’s christening will bear much of a resemblance, but then the after party probably won’t have quite the same element of care-free fun either.
Anyhow, with the big day around the corner, there is a lot of preparation to be done by mum.
Luckily, while adult women may like to diet ahead of the big occasions to be able to squeeze into their dresses, it appears babies in the traveller community do not need to worry about such things.
One nurse said that although it was a cultural taboo to feed young ones breast milk, she had heard of gypsy mothers dishing up curry and chips for their six-month-olds to nosh on.
Fortunately, a bloated tummy won’t stop them looking their best.
On the day of her christening in Wales, six-week-old baby Precious donned a bespoke spangly silk sleeveless top (which she was later sick on), a tutu and a jewel encrusted hood.
Her mother said: “We tried to get the biggest, ‘bling-y-est’ dress we could find – basically everything you can do to a baby.”
The christening itself actually turned out to be rather a sombre affair, much like any other. The priest said a few calm words and people cried all over their enormous dresses and thanked him.
Then it was off to the pub, where an evening of dancing and booze awaited.
Then there was the tale of Helen who in the space of 12 months met her first boyfriend, got engaged, married and had twins. But she doesn’t want the traveller life for them. She wants the boy to be a doctor and the girl to go to university and be whatever she wants.
You always get the exception to the stereotype.
The programme also showed that gipsy funerals often bestow the same fanfare as the community’s weddings and christenings.
The family of a 21-year-old man who was gunned down only days after the birth of his child spared no expense in mourning his death.
The church was filled with glittery silver balloons and dozens of colourful flower sculptures, including some arranged in the shape of giant Pot Noodles and pints of Guinness (Thomas loved both).
A hearse was packed with white roses to the point that the driver can’t have been able to see out of the back.
It is all obscenely tacky. That is undeniable. But it is also charming and sweet, in its own unique way.
What seems so strange is that all this garish fanfare appears to be part of such a deep rooted culture, yet it is all so modern, so neon, so vulgar.
Still, we can’t help but be mesmerised by the celebrations and the clothing.
I know I’ll be tuning in for whatever instalment Channel 4 brings next.
My Big Fat Gypsy super sweet 16, anyone?
Will AckermannSubscribe to our Newsletter