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Bohemianism is a way of life where a person chooses to live an unconventional lifestyle, embracing the beauty of art, music, literature, and freedom over anything. The term bohemia referred to a kingdom in Europe, The Kingdom of Bohemia. It was a medieval and early modern Central European monarchy that preceded the contemporary Czech Republic. Isn’t it fascinating how the word Bohemia, which was initially associated with a kingdom, is now associated with a connotation of unconventional and artistic lifestyle?
Origin of the term Bohemian
History dates back to the emergence and the usage of the word bohemianism to the 19th century in France. Bohémien was a term used to address the Romani people in France who reached there in the 15th century. Nearly 1500 years back, Romani people were displaced from their homeland, i.e., present-day northwestern India. For years, they were known to have a nomadic existence, for they were never welcomed by any nation-states across Europe and were considered hostile wherever they went.
Exceptionally, in the 15th century, the Kingdom of Bohemia acknowledged the Romani people and gave them recognition and acceptance. Having reached France from the Czech lands, known to the French as La Boheme, Romani people were commonly referred to as Les Bohemiens, thus marking the origin and usage of the term ‘Bohemian’ in France.
What gave life to the bohemian lifestyle!
Romani people, commonly referred to as the Roma, were a community of people who never had a stationary job or home. They were a group of wandering people who traveled from one place to another. Another exciting aspect of these communities was that music, art, and storytelling were an intrinsic part of their life. Over time, people across France and United States were drawn towards this freewheel lifestyle.
As a result, many interacted and lived with the Romanis in towns and cities. It eventually led to widespread public interest in the unconventional way of living, which marked the beginning and popularity of the bohemian lifestyle. Though the emergence of bohemianism has its roots in France, this ideal was soon transited to other countries and adopted by different cultures.
Connotation of the term, Bohemian
The idea of bohemianism was depicted through music and literature in the early days. Several literary works like Les Miserables, Scenes de la Vie de Boheme, and Trilby played a vital role in propagating the underlying meaning of a carefree bohemian life. In this modern era, the jargons boho, bohemian, bohemianism, and bohemian lifestyle are associated with a particular fashion style, a peculiar way of decorating houses, and even the freestyle way of living. Over time, the term bohemia has acquired a more generic meaning. It is often correlated with people, culture, fashion, altogether a way of life in the contemporary period.
Who is a Bohemian?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “Bohemian” as someone, “especially an artist, literary man, or actor, who leads a free, vagabond, or irregular life, not being particular as to the society he frequents, and despising conventionalities generally.” While, The American College Dictionary defines a it as “a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior.”
Simplicity and a carefree life are two key features that define a bohemian lifestyle. Day by day, more people are attracted to the ideology of living a bohemian life. Despite their age, gender and ethnicity, anyone can lead a bohemian life, provided they unearth its key features and intrinsic characteristics. For instance, the Bohemian lifestyle demands a person to let go of all the hatred and embrace everyone with love, for they believe that sending positive vibes to the world will result in its reversion some or the other way. But before getting fascinated by the surface meaning of a free-spirited life, one must dig deep into the key steps that help a person adapt to a bohemian lifestyle.