Wednesday, October 4

The 7 Most Awesome Things About Reenacting

I've said it before... every hobby has its own quirky PROS and CONS, historical reenacting is no exception. In the spirit of the holidays, please allow me to present...


Getting to travel to new places and see new things is awesome. Being a historical presenter has afforded me the opportunity to discover and visit places that I might not have found otherwise. Give me an old house, a reconstructed fort, a monument, a scenic battlefield, a tall ship, a village, a log cabin... and I will be happy. I love trying to imagine the people that were there before me, where they stood, how they lived and how they made use of the grounds.

It must be said, barring a few killjoys, I have met some of the best people through the hobby. People that I would likely not have met if I had never become a reenactor. It has been my experience that historical reenactors are some of the most kind and generous people out there.

I don't know that I've been to a single reenactment where I wasn't greeted by someone or given a spot next to someone's fire or offered a drink or a bite to eat. Friendly people who are eager to talk, listen, share knowledge and learn.

That coupled with the fact that we're all from very different corners of the world, but no matter how diverse a sampling of humanity you may have at any given event, they all seem to share a passion for history and passing it on. They always seem to know the most interesting and bizarre stuff!

Can I just say that if you were to travel back in time and meet me as a kid and tell me that one day in the future I'd be excited about history or research, the little kid version of me would call you a liar. I had no idea that I would enjoy doing research, reading about weird and obscure historical stuff and combing old illustrations and paintings in an effort to learn new things! And my favorite feeling is reading something that sends you down an all NEW rabbit trail of discovery.

The beauty of historical reenacting is, there's always something new to learn... even when you think there isn't.

Don't you remember the fun of playing 'Cops & Robbers' as a kid? When you dispensed justice with your extended index finger and thumb. It's a shame that so much of that 'play-pretend' has to go away from our everyday, adult lives. Granted, it doesn't ALL go away, we just have to channel it down more 'socially acceptable' avenues, art, writing, sewing, building and so forth. But it seems like a shame to loose some of that pure 'play-pretend' in funny hats from our childhoods. For me personally, reenacting has allowed me to recapture some of that feeling.... WITH funny hats!

What is it about stuff cooked in cast iron over a 'real fire' that just makes it taste so amazing? I would be hard pressed to recall one poor meal I had at an event. I have a lot of respect for anyone that can cook with a firepit in primitive conditions, I can barely cook in my modern kitchen, unless you count preheating the oven and defrosting a pizza.

Just speaking for myself here, but since I have become a reenactor, I have learned MORE cool history than I ever did from any dry ol' dusty history class in school. This is not an attack on history teachers at all, but it was just never very dynamic in the classroom for me when I was growing up. Nothing beats getting out there and going to the places where it happened, wearing what they wore and doing it in the way that they did it in the period.

We want to hear what YOU think is the most awesome part of Historical Reenacting. So think it over, then add your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for reading and have a great holiday season from all of us here at HMS Acasta!

Be sure to check out these other lists of interest:

The 7 Worst Things About Being a Reenactor

That does it for this reenactor list. If you have enjoyed reading this or the other adventures of the HMS Acasta, be certain to become an honorary member of the crew. This is a easy way to show us that you're out there and paying attention. It is a simple matter really, there is a blue button at the very bottom of the page that will allow you to join.

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  1. What a wonderful post!!! Yes, true in every respect!
    I actually cannot speak for historical reenactment as I see myself more as a historical seamstress, but nevertheless I’ve met plenty of awesome people, opened a window to a vivid past, enjoy every bit about history and above all, it’s fascinating to experience a craft back from a pre-industrial time.
    No machine or computer was involved in sewing the most amazing garments I’ve ever seen, all of them one of a kind and full of perfection being handmade by our amazing ancestors – and there are so many more garments/recipes/journals/books/stories/research waiting to be discovered...(and it often feels like going on a Peter Pan journey!)


  2. Powder smoke. The smell of powder smoke - there's nothing like it!

    I also love sitting around the fire when all the MOPs have gone home and just spending time with other people, talking about various aspects of history... Doing so while wearing period clothing is pretty darn cool.

    1. "I love the smell of fouling in the morning: it smells like... history!"

  3. I love teaching! You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned how reenacting makes learning fun, but that benefit isn't just for the reenactor. I love talking with the people who attend events - there ae always young kids or people who are at a reenactment event for the first time. It really makes my day when people want to pose for pictures with me or ask about parts of my costume or the person I'm portraying. At the end of the day, I might be exhausted, sweaty from wearing a wool uniform in summer heat, covered in dust kicked up by the tromping of thousands, and with sore feet from doing my own tromping in moccasins I only wear a few times a year, but I know I've helped people learn something new, rekindled people's interest in history, and maybe, just maybe, I was the spark that will light a reenacting fire in the younger generation.

  4. I was taken to my first re-enactment at the age of 3 and it has been an on again/off again hobby since then. The seven reason listed are so very true. I am a true history geek, and the privilege of being around other people sharing info and knowledge, learning a new handcraft, sharing books/websites is a fantastic thing in itself. I wish I had more time, and money to do more, but I can only escape the mundane world for a few precious days a year, but the memories are wonderful.

  5. I have to put this in, despite its being a year since this post was put up... (Reminder: I do Napoleonic reenactment as a redcoat in Wellington's Peninsular army)

    Marching onto a battlefield with a really good bagpiper is an awesome feeling. OK, we know nobody's going to end up dead, but you still have the adrenaline going, and there just comes a point (whether on the field or in camp) at most events where you get the feeling that this is what it was like back then.

    One of my abiding memories is from an event last year. I'm in the front rank of a British line with a French column bearing down on us, drums thumping with the regular 'Vive l'Empereur!' shouts (known to the Peninsular soldiers as 'Old Trousers', heaven only knows why!). We're waiting and waiting for them before we get the order to make ready, present, fire.

    And that whole column just disappeared in a cloud of white powder-smoke.

  6. To add to the first one, the deeper I get into this hobby, the more I research, and share my research, the more opportunities it has brought me: tours of historic sites that the public never sees, the chance to see artifacts that usually aren't displayed, information and resources I hadn't imagined, and, after my accident, a HUGE outpouring of love and support, much of it from people I'd never actually met.