Old-Timey Sailors Believed In Some Seriously Odd Superstitions

Never bring bananas on board your ship. Always smash your eggshells into tiny pieces. Avoid drowning by wearing an earring. These are just some of the many bizarre superstitions that mariners believed in the olden days. The fact that going to sea was a highly risky operation back then probably explains why sailors were such a superstitious lot. Read on to learn some of the weirdest sea-going superstitions and taboos, or you might regret it!

1. Right foot forward

As far as mariners are concerned, superstitions start right from when you first set foot on a ship. Actually it’s the foot that’s the key thing here. Don’t just randomly step aboard a vessel with any old foot. You must climb aboard with your right foot first. Boarding any kind of boat with your left foot in the lead is a sure-fire recipe for bad luck.

2. Launching rituals

The launch of a new ship has been surrounded by ceremony since time immemorial. The Babylonians believed that to ensure the future well-being of a new vessel you had to sacrifice two oxen. The Vikings, true to their bloodthirsty image, would make a human offering of slaves. In a more civilized era we simply smash a bottle of champagne on a ship’s bow when it’s launched.

3. No bananas

“Fruit is good for you” is a healthy eating message we frequently hear. But it turns out that’s not always true, at least when it comes to bananas. Because you should never take a bunch of the yellow fruit on board a ship, as it will bring bad luck. Why? Perhaps because ships carrying fresh fruit would have noticed that bananas make other fruit ripen more quickly. That’s because bananas leak ethylene gas, a ripening agent.

4. Keeping Neptune happy

Any mariner worth his or her salt will throw a few coins into the water as a ship departs dock. That’s to keep the god of the seas, Neptune, happy. Keeping on the right side of the mighty Neptune is an obsession for superstitious sailors anxious to travel safely. On the other hand, never toss a stone into the sea as you depart dry land. If you do, your vessel will be fated never to come back.