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Harmless historical nutsHarmless historical nuts.
Who wear boilerplate on their butts
Who dress up in clothes from the twelfth century
To bash on each other with sticks and debris
And make up the world's largest private army...
—Leslie Fish, "True Story"
The Society for Creative Anachronism is an organization dedicated to reliving The Middle Ages and The Renaissance. On any given weekend, somewhere in the world (usually several somewheres), people will come from miles around, dressed in pre-17th century costume (or an attempt thereat), and fight in armor (with rattan swords), sing period or period-style songs, fight in armor, show off their skills with a pen/loom/anvil, fight in armor, eat a medieval feast, fight in armor, watch as the king and queen bestow awards on some deserving gentle, and fight in armor. Most participants choose a time and place to be from and a name that might have belonged to someone from that time and place (but not that of a real person or fictional character); this is called the participant's "persona".
Establishing a persona may involve crafting a costume (known as 'garb'), which can be as elaborate as a person's budget and time allow, but it's a serious faux pas to nitpick another person's garb. When not in SCA garb, a person is said to be in 'modern' clothing; it's sometimes called 'mundane' garb, but that term has fallen into disfavor in recent years due to its somewhat negative and 'put-down'ish overtones.
The 'Middle Ages' as depicted by the SCA are slightly different than the real-world events, and as such are called the 'Current Middle Ages' in Society parlance. 'Current' means that while strict historical accuracy is nice, it's not always practical in a modern context; as such, allowances are made in situations where actual historical information is limited or may not be entirely compatible with modern society.
Strictly speaking, the Current Middle Ages comprise a period from approximately 600 CE to roughly 1600 CE; this allows a wide variety of personas, from many countries and walks of life. The only hard-and-fast rules are that persona names must be historically accurate (or 'period'), a persona cannot be an actual historical figure or a fictional character, and a persona's culture must have established some form of interaction with Middle Ages society.
The SCA provides examples of:
- Acceptable Breaks From Reality: A perennial criticism of SCA chivalric combat is that attacks below the knee are generally considered foul, and this leads a lot of fighters to favor a less historically accurate style of high guard. However, aiming for that area leads to a lot of leg and knee injuries: most groups would rather have less "historical" fighters come back next weekend than lots of very period fighters laid up in the hospital.
- Anachronism Stew: Vikings, Romans, Elizabethans, and Saracens manage to coexist.
- Badass Bookworm: Almost all heavy fighters.
- Death Is Cheap: If it weren't, the ranks of armored fighters would get thin really quickly.
- Fake Nationality
- Rule of Cool
- Screw the War, We're Partying
- Shown Their Work: Arts and sciences competitions frequently require participants to document that their entry is done in an authentic manner, using authentic materials.
- Sometimes done just for fun, as when a feastcrat successfully documented medivel beanie-weenies.
- War Is Glorious: ...and fun, too!