[ en-akt-muhnt ]
1. the acting out of a past event:
"the re-enactment of a naval battle"
2. an occasion on which people re-enact an event.
any of various activities involving the re-enactment of historical events or the recreation of living conditions of the past.
is an educational or entertainment activity in which people follow a plan to recreate aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, or as broad as an entire period.
Most participants are amateurs who pursue history as a hobby. Participants within this hobby are diverse, ranging in age from young children whose parents bring them along to events, to the elderly. In addition to hobbyists, members of the armed forces and professional historians sometimes participate.
Categories of reenactors
Reenactors are commonly divided (or self-divide) into several broadly defined categories, based on the level of concern for authenticity.
"Farbs" or "polyester soldiers", are reenactors who spend relatively little time and/or money achieving authenticity with regard to uniforms, accessories, or period behavior. Anachronistic clothing, fabrics, fasteners (such as velcro), footwear, vehicles, and modern cigarettes are common.
The origin of the word "farb" (and the derivative adjective "farby") is unknown, though it appears to date to early American Civil War centennial reenactments in 1960 or 1961. Some think that the word derives from a truncated version of "Far be it from authentic". An alternative definition is "Far Be it for me to question/criticise", or "Fast And Researchless Buying". A humorous definition of "farb" is "F.A.R.B: Forget About Research, Baby". Some early reenactors assert the word derives from German Farbe, color, because inauthentic reenactors were over-colorful compared with the dull blues, greys or browns of the real American Civil War uniforms that were the principal concern of American reenactors at the time the word was coined. The term was picked up by George Gorman of the 2nd North Carolina at the Centennial Manassas Reenactment in 1961, and has been used by reenactors since.
Mainstream reenactors make an effort to appear authentic, but may come out of character in the absence of an audience. Visible stitches are likely to be sewn in a period-correct manner, but hidden stitches and undergarments may not be period-appropriate. Food consumed before an audience is likely to be generally appropriate to the period, but it may not be seasonally and locally appropriate. Modern items are sometimes used "after hours" or in a hidden fashion. The common attitude is to put on a good show, but that accuracy need only go as far as others can see.
At the other extreme from farbs are "hard-core authentics", or "progressives," as they sometimes prefer to be called. Sometimes derisively called "stitch counters", "stitch nazis", or "stitch witches." The hard-core movement is often misunderstood and sometimes maligned.
Hard-core reenactors generally value thorough research, and sometimes deride mainstream reenactors for perpetuating inaccurate "reenactorisms". They generally seek an "immersive" reenacting experience, trying to live, as much as possible, as someone of the period might have done. This includes eating seasonally and regionally appropriate food, sewing inside seams and undergarments in a period-appropriate manner, and staying in character throughout an event. The desire for an immersive experience often leads hard-core reenactors to smaller events, or to setting up separate camps at larger events.