Post by Joanna on Aug 28, 2014 3:57:38 GMT -5
13 Seafaring Superstitions
Ahoy Matey! Seafaring is one of the world’s oldest professions and many strange things happen on the high seas. Thus, it was natural for sailors to contemplate why such things occurred and how they could be prevented. Accordingly, during the thousands of years men have sailed the oceans, many superstitions have arisen, so plunge in and discover 13 common seafaring superstitions:
1. No Bananas on Board. Aside from their peels that have caused many comedians to slip and fall down, bananas have long been thought to bring bad luck, especially on ships. At the height of the trading between Spain and the Caribbean in the 1700s, many ships that happened to be carrying cargoes of bananas disappeared, never to be heard of again, and it didn’t take long for some of the more superstitious old salts to associate bananas with disaster.
Coincidence? Perhaps. Another theory suggests that because bananas spoiled so quickly, transporters were required to reach their destinations much more quickly, so sailors weren’t able to fish while on board, thus, depleting their diets of protein, vitamins and minerals, which caused the men to die, go crazy or mutiny. Another danger came when the heat in the storage hull caused the fruit to ferment, which produced deadly toxic fumes. A final theory on the perils of bananas at sea (though there are tons) is that a species of deadly spider would hide inside banana bunches. The lethal bite caused crewman to die suddenly, heightening the fear that a banana cargo was a bad omen. Many boaters continue to avoid bananas at sea, some even avoiding banana-scented suntan lotion.
2. No Women on Board. Women were thought to bring bad luck to a ship because they were a distraction and sailors slacked off on their duties. This sort of lackadaisical behavior angered the intemperate seas and they would take their revenge on the ship. Strangely enough, it was believed naked women “calmed the sea” and this is the reason so many ship’s figureheads are carvings of topless women, because it was believed her bare breasts “shamed the stormy seas into calm” and her open eyes guided the seamen to safety.
3. Son of A Gun. If a male child was born on a ship, he was referred to as a “son of a gun” because the most convenient place to give birth was on the gun deck. A male child on board was considered good luck.
4. No Whistling on Board. Mariners have long held the belief that whistling or singing into the wind will “whistle up a storm.”
5. Red Sky at Night .... “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning” the old saying goes. A red sunset indicates a beautiful day to come, while a red sunrise indicates rain and bad weather.
6. Deathly Lexis. At sea, some words must be strictly avoided to ensure the ship and crew’s safe return. These include obvious ones such as “drowned” and “goodbye.” If someone said “good luck,” it was sure to bring bad luck. The only way to reverse the curse was by drawing blood, so most of the time, a punch in the nose would suffice.
7. Beware the Lurking Shark. A shark following a ship is a sign of inevitable death.
8. Welcome the Lurking Dolphins. Dolphins swimming with the ship are considered a good sign.
9. Don’t Sail On These Days .... Don’t Sail on Thursdays, Fridays, the first Monday in April, or the second Monday in August. Fridays have long been considered unlucky days, likely because Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday. Thursdays are unlucky sailing days because is Thor’s day, the god of thunders and storms. The first Monday in April is the day Cain slew Abel. The second Monday in August is the day the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Superstitious sailors believe the only good day to set sail is Sunday.
10. The Pirate’s Look, is the Look for Me. A pierced earlobe on a sailor indicated he had sailed around the world or crossed the equator. Superstitious crew members wore gold hoop earrings because they thought it brought good fortune. Some believed the gold possessed magical healing powers or served as a protective talisman that would keep the wearer from drowning. Tattoos were also considered lucky. Seafarers would usually tattoo a nautical star on their bodies because the North Star represented a signal they were nearing home. Cutting one’s hair, nail-trimming and beard-shaving were all taboo.
11. Don’t Change the Name of the Boat. It’s bad luck to change the name of a vessel. Boats develop a life and mind of their own once they are named and Christened. But if you do rename a boat, you absolutely must have a de-naming ceremony. This ceremony can be performed by writing the current boat name on a piece of paper, folding the paper and placing it in a wooden box, after which the box is burned. The ashes were then scooped up and throw them into the sea.
12. Pay Your Dues. Seamen who hadn’t paid their debts were blamed for storms and any other unfortunate events that occurred on the ship.
13. Avoid Gingers. Redheads were believed to bring bad luck to a ship. If a seafaring man happened to encounter a redhead before boarding and he didn't speak to the redhead before he/she spoke, the sailor man would have bad luck.
In order not to kill our luck with this post we’ve added one more superstition ....
Lucky 14: Don’t Kill an Albatross. Seabirds were once thought to carry the souls of dead sailors and it was considered bad luck to kill one. However, it was considered good luck to see one, probably because it meant land was near.