What is a “bohemian” lifestyle?

What is a “bohemian” lifestyle?

Due to their rather unconventional lifestyle and gatherings of like-minded people, being bohemian is usually considered to be an adventurer, a wanderer, and a vagabond. Originally, the term was used in a pejorative form to refer to Roma gypsies, who were thought to have originated in Bohemia in Central Europe.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a bohemian is 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". In this context, examples of celebrities like Kate Moss and Pete Doherty come to mind.

Back in history, the population of bohemians was diverse, but they had core values that included rejection of bourgeois values.  These values included:

  • Rejection of private property by having no residence and not having any wealth.
  • Rejection of absolute moral values by living freely with no regards to any moral code.
  • Rejection of the pursuit of wealth by living only for the sake of art and literature

But by the 19th century, the term started to have the more romantic connotation it has today.  The gypsy clothing became a fashion that helped identify the proud bohemians that were (and still are) regarded as rebellious, eccentric, and quite often amoral.

The bohemian lifestyle spread to other countries and cultures fairly rapidly. It was manifested in songs and famous poems. Poets led their own bohemian thoughts and playwrights portrayed the essence of the American bohemia, where there seems to be no morals and no shame.

Today, the bohemian style still holds to its historical roots.  They are countercultural people who have a distinguished way of acting and dressing.  They are free spirits, very much like hippies.  They dress in a particular way, far from trending fashion. They do drugs, make art, and enjoy the outdoors. 

In simple terms, a bohemian lifestyle involves living the way you want.  It is about valuing creativity, freedom, and change. 


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