By Arianna of Wynthrope

One of the things that can be puzzling to new SCA members in Æthelmearc is the way we cheer in courts or when someone does something admirable.

“Vivat? What the heck IS that?”

Vivat is a Latin word meaning “Long may he/she/they live.”

If we are cheering for multiple people, then the proper form is Vivant for “Long may they live.”

But why?

Let me tell you a story….

Back in the mists of time, there was only one Kingdom, and it was located in Berkeley, California. They cheered using “Hip Hip Hooray” or sometimes “Huzzah.”

When a member of the SCA from the west coast moved to New York City, they formed a new Kingdom. It was called the East Kingdom, and the SCA in California became known as the West Kingdom.

The East Kingdom continued to use “Hip Hip Hooray” to cheer until the reign of Gyrth (of blessed memory) and Melisande in A.S. XIII.

Their Majesties noted that this cheer may have its roots in anti-Semitism. Per Wikipedia, “It has been suggested that the word “hip” stems from a medieval Latin acronym, “Hierosolyma Est Perdita”, meaning “Jerusalem is lost”,[11][12] a term that gained notoriety in the German Hep hep riots of August to October 1819.” These riots occurred as a result of pogroms to oust Jews from Bavaria.

King Gyrth and Queen Melisande proposed the switch to “Vivat” as a more positive cheer without the racist overtones, and it was enthusiastically embraced by the populace.

At the time, Atlantia was a Principality of the East, and Drachenwald and Æthelmearc did not yet exist, but all three carried on the tradition of cheering with “Vivat” once they became their own Kingdoms.

Some Kingdoms still use “Hip Hip Hooray,” others use “Huzzah,” Ealdormere uses “Wassail,” and the Middle Kingdom inexplicably uses “Hoobah” because, over 50 years ago, a Midrealm King felt that “Hubba Hubba” being used to cheer on some belly dancers was too crude and suggested “Hoobah” instead.

But here in Æthemearc, remember it’s Vivat for one person, and Vivant for multiple people.