I recently heard a comment made by some folks fairly new to the SCA about households. They said they felt like “second rate citizens” because they didn’t belong to a household. I quickly set them straight on households and what it means to be, or not to be, a member thereof.
A household is a group of SCAdians who enjoy playing together and decide to do so under a group name; nothing more. They may be a group of old friends who have camped and played together for years; they might call themselves the House of the Noisy Minah Birds. Perhaps a couple of retired Coast Guard families might band together in a household and call themselves The Old Goats. A Peer might decide to invite his or her apprentices or squires to gather together as a household and use the Peer’s SCAdian name; perhaps House Granite.
Being a member of a household bestows no Society or Kingdom title, rank, or privileges upon its members. Some households have badges that members can wear to identify themselves as a member of that household. Though households can have internal awards for their members, such awards are recognized only within that household and have no place in the Order of Precedence.
Households can be very local or they can span several branch borders. More often than not, a household is only a local name and is virtually unheard of outside the local branch. Some households hardly exist at all except for at events; ie a household may be nothing more than a name under which a group of friends camps at PENNSIC. Other households may be very active as a fund raising group, a fencing company, an archery company, a group of musicians or singers, etc.
There are no Society or Kingdom rules about how to join a household, or about how many households to which one may belong. Certainly, there may be strict rules and structure established with any given household, while the next household may be so lax that folks outside the household doesn’t even know it exists at all.
Being part of a household may be a very significant part of some folks’ SCA experience. If it’s an active and vibrant household, being a member might bestow a sense of pride in its members. Then again, it might be nothing more than a group friends who like to camp together, or wear the same period garb, etc. Being part of a household certainly doesn’t make one “somebody.” If you’re not part of a household, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have a meaningful and rich SCA experience. It doesn’t mean that you’re “a nobody.” Remember, you ARE a SCAdian and that makes you part of a very special group already.
Finally, it is my humble opinion that if members of a household talk down to you because you’re NOT a member of that household, it’s probably not a household of which you’d want to be part anyway.