Did You Know Pirates Were Superstitious?
Pirates are an interesting lot in many ways. They’re criminals. They’re rogues. They’re mercenaries. They’re killers. They’re businessmen. They’re entrepreneurs. They’re smugglers.
They are also very, very superstitious.
Pirating was a democracy and it was this democratic way of running their ships that attracted a lot of sailors. Sailing for England’s Royal Navy was not all it was cracked up to be—especially for those on the lower rung of the ladder. If a pirate didn’t like the way things were run, a vote was taken and the captain could be voted off the island, so to speak.
In other words, there were rules to follow on this democratic sailing vessel and a lot of those rules came about because of superstitions that were passed on from sailor to sailor, ship to ship and generation to generation.
Here are a few pirate superstitions:
-It was bad luck to have a woman on your ship because it was said that she distracted the sailor. However, if there happened to be a woman on the ship and if she happened to get pregnant and if she happened to give birth to a boy, the boy was called a “son of a gun”.
-Do not whistle on a ship. Whistling was believed to bring on gales. Hence the term, “whistling up a storm”
-Red heads were considered bad luck if you encountered one before boarding the ship. However, if you spoke to the red head first, then the bad luck was averted.
-Bananas on a ship were bad luck (yes, bananas).
-It is bad luck to rename a ship. If you have to rename a ship there are specific steps that needed to be taken and a renaming ceremony has to take place.
-Black cats. Ironically enough black cats were considered good luck to pirates. A cat with an extra toe (known as a polydactyl cat) was considered very good luck.
-In fact there were a lot of superstitions regarding animals. A shark following the ship foreshadowed death. A turtle was good luck but if a pirate killed one and didn’t eat it then it was bad luck. Killing an albatross is bad luck as well as killing a dolphin.
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