Favors: Their Function and Form by Lady Amber Kenna
While at this year's Grand Outlandish, I had the honor of attending a "favors" class taught by Duchess Elisheva of Outlands. She briefly went into the history and authenticity of favors as we use them in the Society, then she discussed the forms, propriety, and uses of favors in the Society today. I am going to attempt to do the same.
A lady's favor is indeed a period concept. Duchess Elisheva found mention of favors in the Middle East and Europe. In one Arabian tale there is mention of women gifting the belt which held up their harem pants to the men of their choosing. In this case, of course, there is an implication of gifting more than the belt, since when the belt is removed the pants fall. In Europe, ladies would tie handkerchiefs or detachable sleeves to the spear or armor (helmet, belt, etc) of the fighter they fancied. The purpose, in either example, is for a lady to show a lord that she fancies him. Though she could find no direct mention of it, Elisheva believes that tokens were also given by lords to ladies and possibly by lords to lords.
A lord who carries the lady's favor must remember that carrying her token means he must act in a way deserving of such a gift. In the Society today, favors can be given by anyone to anyone. Favors can be given for any duration or commitment level, but these conditions should be declared when the favor is given. Most often, a favor is given to a fighter before s/he takes the field. And as the fighters in the "Favors" class commented, wearing someone's favor on the field DOES make a difference in the quality of their fighting.
However, favors don't only need to be given under these conditions. You can give a favor to a fighter whose skill or honor you admire. You can give a favor to someone you wish to be committed to, as a sign of your commitment. Favors can be given among a household to show the connection between members. Or they can be given in any other situation where someone wishes to show gratitude for help, appreciation of actions (helping a child, etc), respect for talents, or connection between people. As Baroness Morgana pointed out, these are often called friendship favors, and are commonly used.
It is important to remember, though, that the meaning of the favor MUST be defined when the favor is given. A lady might say "would you wear this token and fight for me in this fight?", or "would you wear my token as my fighter this year?" or "I just wanted to show you that I respect your fighting/honor/artwork/etc". And the duration of wearing the token should be clearly defined, as well. Fighters wear tokens "for this fight", "for the event", or any other amount of time determined by the giver. Multiple favors may be worn at the same time in most cases (but someone fighting for crown must proclaim ONE person whose favor the fight for in crown tourney). Even someone who is "seeing" or "committed to" (in modern or society terms) someone else may wear your favor. In this case, as the giver you might make a special point to give the favor in front of the recipient's significant other. This way you can explain the favor, as in "with your lady's permission, I would like you to wear this favor during this fight as a token of my respect for your honor on the field." And in all cases, the recipient may refuse the token. If you are offering the favor and this happens, don't be upset. He or she has his or her reasons for refusing (which should also be done gracefully and with honor).
The actual physical form of the favor can be any kind. Most often today we use favors which can be looped over the belt for convenient wearing. Though Elisheva could find no direct proof of today's styles as authentic, they are still used: after all, we are the Society for Creative Anachronism! Favors may be bits of ribbon or trim from the making of garb, they may be part of your garb (as in the case of detachable sleeves), or they may be made specifically to be given as favors (such as cross-stitched, card woven, or embroidered pieces). The amount of time or effort put into the making of the favor need not imply the worth of the token. As I said before, the worth (the commitment level) of the favor is determined at the time of giving. Or there is the case of William the Lucky, who would give Zen favors if caught unprepared: conferring or accepting "air" with all the appropriate gestures and language.
And just to make this clear, and perhaps increase the use of favors, I will reiterate. Favors may be given by anyone, to anyone, at any time. So always have a favor ready and practice your flowery speeches (half the fun is in the presentation and acceptance, after all)! And enjoy the use of favors!
Hatchings in the North-Western part of Winter's Gate
If you hadn't already heard, there are SCA'dians in Kotzebue, AK interested in possibly starting a new branch. This branch may be a Canton -and part of Winter's Gate, or an independent Shire of Oertha. Many factors pull in all directions. We have 3 members so far, and another 4 or more interested participants soon to be members. For now we happily add our numbers to the bustling population of our growing barony. We're seeking a name. Possible themes for names include ice, sands, winds, lack of trees, mining village, Northerli-ness, closeness of the bear of Russia, the frozen seas. Names in other tongues will be considered (Old English, Welsh, Gaelic, Finnish, German, etc). Any ideas, research, or comments as to status, names, or device development are welcome and can be directed at me.
Thanks in advance, -Khevron
A 16th Century Trifle
From "British Heritage" magazine, August/September 1986, vol. 7, no. 5. p.
75. ISSN 0195-2633.
To make a trifle:
"Take a pinte of thicke Creame, and season it with Sugar and Ginger and Rosewater, so stirre it as you would have it and make it luke warme in a dish on a chafing dishe and coales and after put it into a Silver piece of a Bowle, and so serve it to the board." (The Good Huswife's Handmaid, 1594)
Quantities for a modern version of this recipe are:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon rosewater
Heat the cream over a very low flame making sure that it doesn't boil. Allow it to cool and then whip it. As it thickens, gradually add the sugar and rosewater. Finally, fold in the ginger. Serve in small dishes with small biscuits [cookies] or with fresh fruit.
- Lady Nataliia Tomasovna
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