The Roma constitute the biggest ethnic minority in Central and Eastern Europe. Originating from India, they have been living in this region for many hundred years. While there have been historical periods when Roma groups were better integrated in economic and social frameworks and enjoyed a relatively stable social standing, today their predicament is mostly characterized by social marginalization and poverty. This dire, often hopeless economic situation also strongly shapes everyday Roma culture. Although Roma groups, especially those residing on the territory of the former Habsburg Empire, have ‘travelled’ through a process of forced cultural assimilation (and therefore tend to speak the language of the majority and to follow its religion), their circumstances and lifestyle, characterized by the contested notion of the ‘culture of poverty’, differentiates them from members of the ethnic majority.