Gypsy Warning

Posted by Jim on November 09, 2001

In Reply to: Language posted by R. Berg on November 06, 2001

My mother grew up on a farm in Michigan during the 1920s-1940. Occasionally, groups identified as "gypsies" would appear during the day (while the men were in the field) and request food, typically chickens or poultry. According to my mother, no threats were ever made, but it was "common knowledge" that some unspecified harm would come to those who were not generous. Particularly, gypsies were said to steal children from stingy farmwives. My mother and her sisters actually hid in closets while the negotiations went on. Naturally, that led to the use of "the gypsies will get you" as a discipline tool. As in "you better behave or we will let the gypsies get you". There may be some connection to "gypsy warning" as an unspecified but lurking threat.