The saying, “history repeats itself,” is not exactly novel. Whereas the 21st century has brought many innovations and new impressions, some are not so much as new but more so continuations of its predecessors. Bohemianism is no exception. The culture was first introduced through the emergence of gypsies in France in the 19th century. The gypsies had travelled from an area referred to as “Bohemia” that was located within the Czech Republic - hence the term, “Bohemian”. But it's different now as we'll see below.
Although there has been a straying from the gypsy aspect that initially surrounded and encompassed the term, Bohemianism is still very much alive, upheld, and passionately loved by many. The modern day’s take on Bohemianism prides itself on non-conventionalism or in a sense, straying from the norms into a more conscious lifestyle. It aims to free us from the shackles of materialism and instead prioritizes freedom of expression.
Get a Bit Offline
As Carlos Wallace once said pertaining to social consciousness, “following trends on social media will not lead to social consciousness.” Wallace’s quote sums up one aspect of bohemianism: getting offline.
This is not to say that modern-day bohemians do not make use of the widely available wifi networks and social media platforms. How else would we, fellow bohemians, communicate and connect with one another especially across the globe? How else would you be reading this article right now?
However, whereas the 21st century has taken a deep dive into the digital world and social media, those of us who choose to adapt to a more bohemian-like lifestyle are opting for less screen time and instead, for a hike into the deep end of the woods for an outdoor excursion to connect with nature, or some downtime with a paintbrush or musical instrument in hand.
In other words, the modern bohemian makes use of the digital services available but practices consciousness and limitations with them to aim for a better connection with oneself and those around them. It is not about getting the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Instead, it’s about going after what gives you peace of mind.
Veganism is Common
A very common term that you most likely have run into more than a dozen times if you do not personally identify with it is “veganism” or more simply put, “vegan” - both terms to identify a conscious way of eating that abstains from all animal products be it meat, milk, and eggs. Often it is not only a dietary plan but also branches into a lifestyle as well that aims to also avoid wearing clothing derived from animals as well.
It is not news that veganism has gained rapid popularity amongst many over the years and still continues to do so but when it comes to the modern day bohemian, many bohemians also identify with the vegan lifestyle. This is because it goes seamlessly in tune with values of environmental sustainability and cherishing the world around us including our fellow companions of the furry, feathered, and scaly variety. The video below speaks to this, but also demonstrates that it all needs to be put in context to be realistic, if this is an avenue you are going down.
The Bohemian Wardrobe
This is also partially the reason as to why when it comes to a modern day bohemian wardrobe, it is quite simple, inexpensive, and often minimalistic. It is not about dashing off between shopping spree to shopping spree in search of the “hottest” new designer brands. Instead, you will often find that clothing pieces are conserved through time to be used time and time again to be fully loved and appreciated and to get the most use out of them.
However, do not mistake the word “simple” for “bland”. It is actually very much on the contrary. One distinguishing characteristic of boho-esque clothing styles is the gorgeous bold and vibrant colourations - one characteristic that traces back and sheds light unto the gypsy roots behind the Bohemian culture. Some examples of Bohemian style live through floral, flowy skirts and dresses, handmade jewellery, t-shirts, and the like.
As you may recall, I did say that it is inexpensive. Flea markets, thrift shops, and small business type vendors are common favourites among modern day bohemians and not just because they offer money-saving deals. They’re also compatible with Bohemian values of recycling and conservation as well as supporting ethically sourced products instead of the widespread commercialistic, sweatshop-produced counterparts.
Some people are perfectly content with a 9-5 corporate job and there is nothing problematic with that. However, if you ask a modern-day bohemian, you might more likely than not get the vibe that that is not their ideal job. Corporate jobs abide by a strict routine and structure - a polar opposite to the free spirit that most bohemians today prefer to abide by. It’s not about a fixed routine. Rather it’s more centred on what each day can bring you and the spontaneity that goes hand in hand with that.
So instead, many modern-day bohemians prefer to dabble in occupations or at least hobbies that allow them to freely participate and express themselves through the arts, be it tangible masterpieces or musical melodies, and even literary works. As Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” That is one statement that most definitely any fellow bohemian would most definitely agree with. In fact, I think I just caught you nodding in agreement.
Holistic Health Approach - Mind, Body and Spirit
Along with straying from the norms comes one of my personal favourites with modern day Bohemianism: the holistic practices. Pharmaceutical companies have taken the world by storm. Although there are many benefits, there is arguably an overuse of both pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter medications. This is where modern day bohemians can be seen applying a balance.
It is amazing that a culture rewinding back all the way to the 19th century still holds popularity fast-forwarding into the 21st century but it is no surprise. If you ask me, modern day bohemianism is a breath of fresh air in an ever increasingly fast paced world. It is the pause and yellow traffic light we can all benefit from to slow down, take everything in and enjoy it.
As the saying goes, “stop and smell the roses” - it seems that Bohemianism grants us the opportunity to do just that. There is a beauty in being different and Bohemianism does very well to celebrate those differences.