One of the key virtues of the medieval time period was hospitality. Different cultures symbolized that in different ways, with bread and salt, a cup of wine, or even the obligation to defend the guest from others, while they were one’s guest.
In the SCA, hospitality is equally important. It can be envisioned as a cushion to have your guests rest upon. It is about making people welcome and encouraging them to come back.
But to show hospitality can be challenging. We don’t always realize when our offhand comments are interpreted by others in an unkind way. Sometimes, we want to say, “It’s their problem if they get upset too easily.” While it may indeed BE their problem, it is also our problem. WE have to think like our guests and new members, to put ourselves in their shoes, and try to understand them.
When we succeed at showing hospitality, most often, we gain a new friend, a new member of the kingdom, and someone with which we can share the dream. The value of that is high, and justifies the effort of being a gracious host.
Wherein we come to the problem of chairs. Some people are offended by modern lightweight chairs. The ugly chairs interfere with the ambience of the event, break the mood, and jar them out of their medieval moment. I understand that, I really do!
However, when we loudly proclaim that bag chairs are an abomination, the message we are inadvertently sending is that we value the look of the area more than the presence of friends, old and new.
There are many who will hear the vocal criticism of the chair, and feel it targeted at them. Because they use that type of chair – due to cost, due to comfort, due to not being able to carry a heavier chair across the site to court or the list field, or due to size or weight requirements as they pack their vehicles. Or they choose to bring several lightweight chairs, rather than one heavy wooden chair, so they can show hospitality.
I know full well that making people feel unwelcome is never the intent of those who despise modern lightweight chairs. But the burden of hospitality is to think not only of your own intent, but also how others will perceive your words and actions.
So show hospitality. Entice others by using more authentic choices. Show them where to find resources on authentic seating options. If using a lightweight chair is really their only option, offer suggestions on how to present a more authentic look, without a great increase in weight.
Great photo by Einar, showing the true goal of hospitality – friends having a great time.