hael12thgnightdeviceThe Barony of the Rhydderich Hael celebrated their annual Twelfth Night this past Tuesday, January 6th, which ironically occurred on 12th Night. The celebration was held at the Elks Club of Lancaster, where the Barony holds its officer meetings and practices. Some fifty members of the Hael were in attendance for a night of friendship, gifts, food and good cheer. A good time was had by all.

That concludes the version my Communications professor from back in the day would have liked. My Business communications professor would have been nodding her head in agreement, but all the while my Marketing professor would have been shouting, “Sell the sizzle man, sell the sizzle.” And as usual I stared blankly into the abyss and grinned that mischievous grin that panics my wife and thrills those who know me better. You took the time to click on this link. You deserve better than just the traditional answering of the standard seven “W”s.

What do I love about Baronial 12th Night? It’s all about the Barony baby. Now, I loved being your Happy Go-Lucky Get Down Tonight Kingdom Chronicler, and getting to see and report what was going on all over these most awesome Sylvan Lands, but my heart is in the Hael. The most common phrase I used for two years was that I looked forward to spending more time involved in the Hael. I love yelling out “Hael Yeah!” I love heralding my Baron and Baroness in to large courts. I love Ice Dragon. I love the Green and Black and most of all I love the people and my friends there. Baronial 12th Night is that night that we all get together and break bread and enjoy each others’ company without every one running all over the place being official. This is the core of a Hael 12th Night.

IMG_3175At how many events do you really get to spend significant amounts of time with all your friends? In the Hael the average local event is spent with every one running in different directions to various competitions, meetings, event tasks and work, work, work. After a full day of that, where you rarely get to see everyone, you then have to do break down, while everyone else leaves the event as fast as they can. Sometimes I think they hold Court to keep 75% of the people from leaving after their activity is done, and that Feast helps keep the other 40% that didn’t leave right after Court and the other 10% are still there at the end to help clean up. I like 12th Night because I get to hang out for three hours with everyone.

I remember when the Barony shifted the format of the usual Monthly Officer Slash Business Meeting from focusing on the officers to focusing on food and cheer. If you want to introduce a new person to the SCA do not invite them to an Officer Slash Business Meeting, as they may want to slash something else ten minutes in. Opt for the food and cheer every time. It’s been over ten years sine this celebration replaced the traditional meeting and it has been a success ever since.

Rhydderich Hael Twelfth Night was announced to start at six thirty. Now many of you may be saying that if proper “SCA-dian Time” is applied the celebration might have doors open at six, but start time might actually be closer to seven. Do not be fooled. Always remember to “never get involved in a land war in Asia” and “SCA-dian time is always trumped by potluck”. I was running a little late, by about 12 minutes. Coincidence? I think not. Fate has a funny way of amusing me, or at least it gives me the opportunity to laugh when I would rather cry.

I walked into a well-attended hall and placed my two packages of warm fried chicken on the nearly full five tables lined up end to end to hold the celebratory bounty. Being a veteran of such things I did do a quick look at the table to see the flow of the types of food from appetizers to desserts and then parallel parked the chicken in front of a row crock pots and pizza\wing boxes. When over fifty people stock a potluck, the diversity is most awesome. Who ever brought the box of tacos, you are a genius. That box was empty in no time as were the two boxes of fried chicken I brought. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken at a potluck.

Having set up my food contribution, I took care of the next important Baronial 12th Night task. I went to the bar and bought a pitcher of pop and a pitcher of beer and a number of glasses. 12th Night is all about sharing. Beverages taken care of, I joined my fellow Haelies for food, drink and laughs. The room was packed. People love a good local get together that involves food. If you want to enhance the cameraderie and well-being of your local group, do not underestimate the power of the potluck. I suggest you have them quarterly and outlaw all practicing, meetings and projects. Save those for other times.

There is a not a strict agenda to the evening. In early days, a quick meeting was held immediately with all officers called upon by the Seneschal and then quickly declining to give reports as to get to the celebration as fast as possible, Imagine a Seneschal standing in between a grand pot luck buffet and a room full of people looking past him hungrily. Seeing that most Seneschals do have good survival instinct to make up for the insanity that led them to wanting such an office, ours realized that they should get themselves out of the line of fire and allow the Barony to eat first. Not only that, but our Seneschal Padraig O’Branduibh was wise enough to announce the Buffet was open while standing at a safe distance. Not that such an announcement was necessary, as the first container had been opened maybe 12 minutes before. Yes, he may have been operating on SCA-dian time by announcing potluck open, but he that was trumped 12 minutes before. Why? Because “Put Luck always trumps SCA-dian time”

IMG_3185Gift giving began after the first servings. I was late to the line so I was happily eating, drinking and laughing, as I am prone to do while fellow members of the Hael were delivering little gifts. The tradition of bringing a little gift goes back beyond my being a member. I did not know about it my first year which was a bit embarrassing as people handed me candies, candles, tea bags, knick knacks and the like and I didn’t have anything to return in exchange. Lesson learned. It’s a joy to watch people wander about like merchants opening their small sacks to distribute the treasures to others.. All in all it is fun and light-hearted. Things get tough when people give larger gifts. That still takes me by surprise and I am never prepared. I have received some very well thought out little gifts over the years. Some of my favorites are tree ornaments. I enjoy decorating the tree and having great memories of my SCA-dian friends who gave them to us at 12th Night.

Eventually, a short business meeting was held. Our Seneschal Padraig O’Branduibh continued to show his wisdom by acknowledging that a meeting should happen, but that Baron Carolus and Baroness Isolda were still handing out gifts to guards, retainers and Champions so he decided the meeting could wait. And we did, which allowed for some more gifts, seconds on main courses and runs at the ever-growing dessert table. I knew Their Excellencies wanted to distribute these gifts while the recipients were still in the hall. You don’t want to make your Baron and Baroness have to track down people at a years’ worth of practices and events to hand out stockings full of now stale or wrinkled 12th Night joy.

Business was kept to a minimum with Padraig calling for some event bids including a small event called “Ice Dragon” and mentioning that Baronial elections would be coming soon. Many of us shook in fear and then comforted ourselves with drink and pastry. The Baron and Baroness thanked everyone for all the help they have received over the last two years and welcomed people to run for their office as they are in their last year. They also presented nice gifts to officers who had finished their terms over the past year. The gifts were so nice many current officers tried to quit. They were informed no gifts for quitters and kept their offices begrudgingly. The Baron and Baroness also reminded everyone of the on-going tradition of the “It’s your 1st Event” token given by the B-n-B. The person who receives this token because it is their first event then gives it to whomever they felt was the most helpful to them at said event. The meeting ended quickly without much incident other than the comical scolding of an imaginary heckler fictionally hidden behind a non-imaginary screen. Let it be noted that since everyone was giddy from food, beverage, gifts and good company that Padraig could mention “Ice Dragon bids” and “Elections” without risk of people fleeing the hall in sheer terror.

Eating, drinking and good cheer continued until the time limit on use of the room expired. Reports seen on trendy social networking sites supported allegations of a good time had by all. In conclusion, no one was hurt by Rollos being hurled about the hall as trivia prizes and I look forward to using the Pink Himalayan Sea Salt that “Not So Evil” Jill gifted me as well as the home made Polish Pastry Zosia gave me. Till Next 12th Night my friends, “Hael Yeah”

~submitted by That Guy Phil