What is the SCA?The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is a group dedicated to researching and recreating the Middle Ages in the present. Many groups meet weekly, and at these meetings we dance, talk, study, learn, revel, and make plans. But first, let's get a little bit of info about the SCA in general.
Where did the SCA come from?
The avowed purpose of the SCA is the study and recreation of the European Middle Ages, its crafts, sciences, arts, traditions, literature, etc. The SCA "period" is defined to be Western civilization before 1600 AD, concentrating on the Western European High Middle Ages. Under the aegis of the SCA we study dance, calligraphy, martial arts, cooking, metalwork, stained glass, costuming, literature... well, if they did it, somebody in the SCA does it (Except die of the Plague!).
As you can probably guess, the thing that separates the SCA from a Humanities 101 class is the active participation in the learning process. To learn costuming, you design and build costumes. To learn SCA infantry fighting, you make armor, weapons, shields, etc., and put them on and go learn how it feels to wear them when somebody is swinging a (rattan) sword at you. To learn brewing, you make (and sample!) your own wines, meads and beers.
You will frequently hear a SCA person describe the SCA as recreating the Middle Ages "as they ought to have been." In some ways this is true -- we have few plagues, indoor plumbing, few peasants. In the dead of winter we have other things to eat than King's venison, salt pork and dried tubers. However, a better description is that we selectively recreate medieval culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us.
The SCA was started in 1966 in Berkeley, California by a group of science fiction and fantasy fans who wanted a theme party. Following the party, a group got together to discuss the idea of a medieval re-creation and re-enactment group (which has ended up being much like the Civil War, Revolutionary War or Buck-skinning re-enactment groups that were beginning to form in the US). In Britain, medieval and British Civil War recreation societies had existed for any number of years. The Californians incorporated as a non-profit educational society, started forming groups, and away they went.
Since 1966, the society has grown to include over 24,000 paying members in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Romania, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Many of us guess that for every dues-paying member, there are three or four other active participants.