I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

Archive for August, 2014

Things I Hate–Part One

Triptych head Female

This is the first in a series of tryptychs that will regularly appear here that show what some people think is an adequate representation, what is an adequate representation (in my mind at least) and the original inspiration for my view.

My thanks to K’La Albertini–not a reenactor–who dyed her hair and helped me out in this project!

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THE HOURS OF HISTORY

A few days ago, my wife wondered aloud when modern demarcation of the hours became popular. This was, of course, to be translated as “Find this out; I want to know but not do research!” Here is a brief answer; the exact answer is, as you might expect, a lot more complex and longer!

In ancient history, the daylight was divided into a number of hours (in societies—such as Egyptian—which had sundials, the sunlit hours were divided into twelve parts, which were of varying lengths depending the time of year. The importance of 12 has been attributed to the number of lunar cycles in a year.

Because sunrise, sunset and noon are conspicuous, most societies starting counting hours at these times, and the development of a system of starting at midnight ordinated only later, when mechanical clocks were invented. In fact, before the invention of artificial light more reliable than candles, fire brands and hearth fires, daily tasks started and ended only when light was available. There was simply no good reason to know an exact time!

Anglo-Saxon Time

The Anglo Saxons used the term dægmæl, meaning “day mark,” rather than o’clock. The times were largely based on liturgical hours after the Anglo-Saxons were Christianized, although there were other times generally recognized for the dôgor (consisting of either twelve or twenty-four hours) on the farms:

Æring

6 am

Dæg-Gemet/Mæl

9 am

Nôn

12 Noon

Undorn

3 pm

Middel-Æfen

6 pm

Nihte-Gemet/Mæl

9 pm

Middel-Nihte,

12 midnight

Otta

3 am

(Times are approximate; Old English words taken from A Handy Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by James Harrison)

Liturgical Hours

The liturgical hours—also known as the canonical hours cathedra hours, monastic hours and offices—were based on the requirement for fixed-hour prayers that were standard by the fourth century and became used in both secular and ecclesiastical cases.

Matins

2:30-3 am

Lauds

5-6 am

Prime

7:30 am

Terce

9 am

Sext

Noon

Nones

2-3 pm

Vespers

4:30 pm

Compline

6 pm

(Times are approximate; taken from A Hypertext Book of Hours)

Norse Time

Much of what I wrote about Anglo-Saxon hours is also relevant for the Norse, The big difference is simply that the Norse did not use liturgical hours until much later since they were not converted to Christianity until later. The Norse hours were:

Rismál or Midur Morgunn

6 am

Dagmál

9 am

Hádegi or Middegi

12 noon

Undoru or Nón

3 pm

Midur Aftaan

6 pm

Náttmál

9 pm

Elding or Ótta

12 midnight

(Times are approximate; the site I cribbed these from no longer exists 😦 )

Modern Hours

Fixed modern hours—not determined by the actual length of the sunlit day—seems to have been devised in the eleventh or twelfth century, when clocks made the mechanical division of the time easy and automatic. Prior to that point, clocks apparently mechanically activated bells denoting the liturgical hours, and they were only gradually modified into modern 24-hour segmentation.


ADVICE FOR REENACTORS FROM A SUBCULTURE YOU MIGHT FIND SURPRISING

I sometimes think burlesque dancer Red Hot Annie was a reenactor in a previous life! Anne is a Chicago-based burlesque performer/ and she regularly posts Burly Q Biz aphorisms over on Facebook, and they are often remarkably pertinent to reenactors. They inspired me to compose a few specifically for reenactors; some are based on what Anne has posted, and some are completely new! https://www.facebook.com/redhotanniechicago

Be honest and thorough. Answer all questions! Remember that one of our main reasons for doing this is to communicate with the public!

Have a single person in charge of arranging for shows, but make certain all members know that they can refer likely shows to that person.

The person ultimately responsible for booking shows should not hesitate to delegate responsibilities but should make certain that he know what is going on.

The person ultimately responsible for booking events should keep other members of the unit apprised of what is going on.

Approach your work with an eye toward the long-haul instead of aiming for immediate pay offs.

When being interviewed, be honest. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. They’re looking for something interesting to print and “I don’t know” is rarely interesting. Being misquoted because you reached for information you didn’t know won’t help your cause. Do not say anything to the interviewer in jest; that—no matter how wrong it obviously is—will be what is quoted as being serious!

Find the time to regularly ask opinions and feelings of each member of your unit. They all need to be heard.

The fee for a show is not always as important as the intangibles. Sometimes the publicity or some aspect of the show or sponsor can be very important!

Answer every email. People will “fill in the blanks” about why you don’t, and they could assume…disinterest…spam…death…

Never ignore any inquiries, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Answer every inquiry to avoid assumptions that you are disinterested or are not available.

Be positive – a beacon of shining light! If you can’t be nice, address the problem or ignore it and move on, but don’t gossip!

Keep a list of all your sponsors so that you can contact them from time to time if they have not contacted you for a while, to let them know that your unit is still in existence and still interested in appearing for them!

If you are no longer interested in appearing at a certain venue or a certain sponsor’s shows—for whatever reason— polite when turning down requests for further show, but be firm!

Set expectations. Be proud of how well you make your presentation and present an accurate image.

Remember that when in costume, you represent not only your unit but all reenactors. But especially your unit!

When greeting a MoP at an event, be the first to say “hi.” Others may be nervous about saying anything, and your shyness may read as snobbery.

Remember it might seem awkward to MoPs to approach you or to ask questions, so do what you can to make it easy for them.

Update your website regularly to keep it relevant. An up-to-date schedule of shows you have booked is essential.

Try to have at least one entirely new presentation for each season. Do not be afraid to return to old presentations that you have not done for a while, but never be afraid to make a presentation better or more accurate.

Give yourself opportunities to learn and to practice activities. Do not hesitate to experiment with risky ideas.

Ask sponsors to give you feedback on your displays and performances. Most are willing to do so if asked but will not volunteer critiques.

You are only as strong as your unit. Do not do it all yourself when someone who does it better wants to help you.

Be prepared for performance. Do not hesitate to practice and always realize that you want to present a professional performance and display.

Know what time you are expected to set up or to display and adjust your actions according to that schedule.

Every social networking site should point to your website. It makes your website appear more important to search engines.

Always practice combat in costume and shoes—especially shoes!

So not publicly denigrate any farby or substandard society that professes to do the same thing that you do. But at the same time, make certain that the public know that there is a difference!

Do not downgrade your requirements for membership and participation just to gain greater numbers. It is better to have five people who are accurately kitted instead of five-hundred who are shoddily garbed.

Members of a unit should know what their key contributions to the unit and to your shows are and how to pull their weight.