Pregnant women are sacred

Lucie HrdlickováPragueSeptember 2000
In pregnancy a Romany woman has to cope with various restrictions.
According to Romany tradition, pregnant women should not watch horror movies or wild-life programs. The Roma believe that if the woman´s attention were attracted by a monkey and she spent a long time gazing at it, her child would be ugly.
At the same time a pregnant woman should be prevented from taking fright: her fear could damage the baby she is carrying.
On the other hand, a woman must get everything she desires during her pregnancy. When she comes to visit, you must give her anything she feels like eating at the moment. Even if she wants strawberries in winter.
If she does not have what she wants, it can hurt her baby.
And that´s exactly what the following story, which I heard from Irena Demeterova, is about.
As I have already said, everyone always gives pregnant women whatever they want. At least they try to. But in Irena´s family a pregnant woman once did not get the food she asked for and they have been blaming themselves for it ever since.
What actually happened?
Well, a pregnant cousin of Irena felt like eating some strawberries. It was winter and, do what he would, her husband just could not get any.
This happened under the Communist regime, and at that time strawberries weren´t exactly one of the things you could buy in winter.
Later everyone forgot that strawberries had ever been mentioned, what with all the other wishes and desires voiced during the rest of the pregnancy.
But when Irena´s cousin finally gave birth to a daughter, the blasted strawberries sprang to everyone´s mind again.
For sure, the baby girl paid dear for her mother´s not getting those strawberries. She was born healthy, but with a strawberry-shaped birthmark on her face.
Since then the Demeters and many other Romany families have been affirming that pregnant women are sacred. If they don´t get whatever they fancy, it can surely take its toll on the child. Not meaning to, the mother can hurt her child or even miscarry.

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