Monday, August 8, 2016

Sailor Superstitions-MTEP 12

Sailor Superstitions-MTEP12

Mystery Tidbits Episode 12-Sailor Superstitions
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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines superstition as "A belief or way of behaving that is based on fear of the unknown and faith in magic or luck: a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck". I think it is safe to say that all of us have heard some of the most common superstitions before, Don't walk under a ladder, Beginners luck, Find a penny pick it up, and Black cats crossing your path is of course bad luck. Most of us write these superstitions off as just being sill and made up, however, there is a good number of people who believe that their luck, good or bad, is made from following, or not following these superstitious rituals. One certain group who has a myriad of superstitions are seafarers. The ocean is vast. It almost seems never ending. Many say that we know more about space and its outer reaches than we know about our own planets oceans. So it would make sense I suppose for one to create beliefs to keep them safe while traveling the high seas for their living, after all, the ocean is full of the unknown. Here are five of the top superstitions that sailors put into practice.

1.No Bananas on Board
Sounds strange right? it's just a simple, delicious fruit, what could be so bad about a banana on board a ship? Bananas apparently have been known to bring bad luck on ships. During the trading empire between spain and the Caribbean in the 1700's most ships that disappeared were carrying bananas as cargo. Who knows my a lot of pirates had a major hankering for bananas. Other theories persist that bananas are bad luck because bananas spoil quickly. When transporting them, sailors had to get them to their destination quickly. This means that the fisherman on board couldn't really stop to catch anything, therefore gaining a major dislike for the fruit. Bad luck, no, just inconvenient. Perhaps the most frightening reason sailors consider bananas bad luck is because a deadly species of spiders can possibly hid within the peels of the banana. The bite of this spider could supposedly cause a sailor to die very suddenly. It seems "No Bananas on Board" is more so for practical reasons, however, it may be safer to just leave the delicious, yellowy goodness on land.

2.No Women on Board a Ship....Unless She is Naked
As one can imagine, a crew full of men out in the middle of the ocean for months at a time can get pretty anxious for a woman's touch, or just for the sight of a woman for that matter, this is why it's said that having a women on board a ship is bad luck, because it was distracting to the sailors. This distraction in turn caused the sea to become angered. The sea Gods would cause horrible water conditions as revenge. The one exception to no women on board though was that if she was somewhere on the ship naked, she actually calmed the sea. This is supposedly the reason why so many ships had figure heads on their bow that were women with bare breasts.

3.Never Rename your Vessel 
It is said that one should never rename a vessel. This is because once a vessel is built, or born, and it is given a name, it begins to develop a mind and character of its own. This one, to me anyway, actually makes a tiny bit of sense.

4.Never Kill an Albatross
An Albatross is one of those winged creatures that most people call a "bird" It is thought to be very bad luck to kill an albatross, for it is believed that these creatures carry away the souls of sailors lost at sea, however, to see an Albatross fling over the ocean is considered good luck. A cargo vessel crew in 1959 supposedly went on strike after an albatross that they had been transporting in a cage died. The main generator for the ship broke down and the hot water heating system failed. The captain had told newspaper that the albatross was probably to blame for the strike.

5.Burial at Sea
It is said that having a dead body on board your ship is bad luck. Once a sailor had lost his life, it was imperative that the corpse be buried at sea as soon as possible after death but never parallel to the line joining the bow and stern of the ship. If a body must stay on the ship, when it docks the deceased must be take off first before anyone else disembarks.

Are superstitions strange? I personally don't think so. It is no different than the egyptians, greeks or christians believing in their gods and trying to do what they feel their gods want as to appease them so that destruction and chaos don't strike. We are human, and perhaps maybe we are all just a little obsessive compulsive.


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