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14 Bizarre Pirate Traditions That Will Shock You!

14 Bizarre Pirate Traditions That Will Shock You!

Pirates, those swashbuckling figures of the high seas, have long captured our imagination with their daring exploits and unconventional way of life. 

Beyond the popularized images of eyepatches, peg legs, and Jolly Roger flags, pirates had a set of intriguing traditions that were far from the ordinary. This blog will explore 14 bizarre pirate traditions that will undoubtedly shock you.

1. Handed The Black Spot Means Fatal Danger!

In pirate lore, the Black Spot Ritual was a grave affair. Pirates employed a circular piece of paper or card; one side blackened to pronounce guilt or judgment. This ominous spot was handed to the accused, instilling fear as it signaled the final sentence.

It bore a verse that struck fear about the size of a crown piece: "Without are dogs and murderers." The blackened side, inscribed with the word "Deposed," signified the end for the pirate, either by force or death. This ritual added a chilling layer to the already difficult life of a pirate.

2. The Pirate Earrings served many Practical Purposes!

With their cunning ways, Pirates added a unique twist to their attire with the infamous pirate earrings. These weren't just fashion statements; they served practical purposes for these sea marauders.

On pirate ships, cannons roared during combat, creating a thunderous noise that could deafen even the bravest buccaneer. To counter this, pirates ingeniously hung wads of wax from their earrings. When it was time to unleash the cannons, they'd pop these waxy contraptions into their ears, safeguarding their hearing amid battle.

But the functionality didn't end there. Pirates, ever mindful of their mortality, wore these earrings as a form of insurance. Crafted from gold or silver, these precious metals could be melted down and sold to cover the expenses of a proper burial.

Some pirates went the extra mile, engraving the name of their home port on the inside of their earrings, ensuring that even in death, they could find their way back home for a dignified farewell.

3. Validated Gay Marriage In The 1600s!

In the adventurous world of pirates, surprising as it may seem, some crews embraced same-sex relationships as early as the 1600s. Life on the high seas meant spending long periods surrounded by fellow male crew members, leading intimate connections among pirates more than just friendships.

They had a unique way of formalizing these relationships called "matelotage," a French word that might be the origin of the famous pirate greeting "Ahoy mate."

In matelotage, two men could decide to be partners and share everything, including their treasures. If, sadly, one of them passed away, the other could get special benefits. These pirate partners were literally committed – they lived together, gave each other gold rings, and sometimes even shared time with female companions. This surprising part of pirate life adds more excitement to the stories of these daring sailors.

4. Jolly Roger Etiquette and Bloody Red Flag: Sign for ‘No Mercy!’

The scary Jolly Roger flag, with its skull and crossbones, really scared sailors. But not all pirates had the same flag. Each group had its own design, like a seafaring signature. Some pirates even made their flags special with extra symbols, making it a bit creepy but also like art.

The Jolly Roger flag on pirate ships was scary, but there was an even scarier one – the red flag. If a ship raised a red flag, it meant big trouble. They wouldn't be nice to the captured ship; everyone on board was in immediate danger.

People sometimes called the red flag the "Bloody Red." If pirates were in a tough spot and switched from the skull and crossbones to the red flag, it was a sign that things gonna be very tough soon.

In those scary situations, some pirates might leave the ship, jumping into the wild sea to escape the danger. The red flag was like a signal of “no mercy”, making everyone fear the pirates on the rough seas.

5. Insightful Parrot Partnerships

In the world of pirates, parrots weren't just vibrant companions for their colorful feathers. Contrary to popular belief, pirates valued these feathered friends as practical alarm systems. Pirates recognized the keen senses of parrots, using them as early warning systems to detect approaching strangers.

The pirates' clever partnership with parrots allowed them to stay one step ahead, providing crucial alerts and ensuring the crew's safety. So, next time you picture a pirate with a parrot on their shoulder, remember it's not just for show – it's a strategic partnership born out of the need for a reliable lookout on the high seas.

6. Pirates were Finely Democratic: Insurance Policy

Pirate democracy was a groundbreaking concept among these seafaring outlaws. Pirates didn't follow the usual captain-first hierarchy seen in other ships. Instead, they elected their captain through a democratic process where every crew member had an equal say. This ensured that the captain was someone the crew respected and trusted.

Additionally, the crew had a voice in major decisions, from dividing the loot fairly to determining the ship's course. This democratic system fostered a sense of equality, making pirates more than just lawless plunderers. The idea that even the lowest deckhand could influence important choices set pirate democracy apart from the authoritarian norms of the time.

They even created a sort of insurance fund for injured pirates. This meant that if a group member became injured, they could still use the benefits of a successful campaign.

7. ‘Marooning’ was a Brutal Reality

Marooning was a really harsh punishment pirates used for crew members who messed up. Imagine this: the pirate in trouble would end up alone on a tiny, empty island with just their clothes, a bit of water, and a weapon. It was a slow and terrible way to go because they had to deal with the weather and having hardly anything to eat.

The pirate had two tough choices – either use the weapon to end their life quickly or suffer through a slow and painful death from hunger and being all alone. If they chose the first option, other pirates thought it was a cowardly move, which made it even worse. Some lucky ones got rescued by a different pirate crew, but that rarely happened. Marooning was one of the meanest things pirates did, and everyone feared it.

8. Pirates created a Drink That Prevented Diseases!

Pirates were not just adventurers but also expert chefs at sea. They invented a famous drink called grog, following the lead of British Navy sailors in the 1600s. Originally, sailors mixed rum with water to avoid drinking dirty water. Pirates took this idea and made it even better.

Pirates added lemon juice to prevent a sickness called scurvy, which was common among sailors. They also put sugar in the mix to make it taste good. So, besides being a strong and tasty drink, grog became like a magical potion that kept pirates healthy on their daring sea journeys.

9. Sea Shanties were fun!

Sea Shanties, a lively pirate tradition, weren't just tunes for passing the time – they were the heartbeat of life at sea. These were like pirate songs that made the monotonous life at sea more colorful.

Pirates didn't just sing for fun; they used these songs to help with their work. Imagine a group of pirates pulling ropes together, singing in rhythm with the waves. The songs helped them coordinate tasks like raising sails. So, sea shanties were not just music – they were like teamwork chants, keeping the pirate crew connected and working smoothly, even in the middle of the big and sometimes scary ocean.

10. Eye Patches Used for Clever Reasons

Pirates often wore eye patches, not just because some had lost an eye in their dangerous adventures, but for a clever reason. Pirates needed to see well in the darkness when they moved between the bright deck and the dark areas below their ships, like during raids or defending against attacks.

Wearing an eye patch ensured that one eye stayed used to the dark, helping them instantly see when they went below deck, even if there was only a little light. This way, pirates turned a simple eye patch into a smart tool for dealing with life's challenges on the unpredictable high seas.

11. The Weird Pox Party Tradition

Pirates did something quite unusual in the strange "Pox Party" tradition. Among the looted treasures, they would draw lots, and the one who got the marked lot willingly got sick with a contagious disease like smallpox.

Surprisingly, this sick pirate still got a share of the loot and was sent ashore. The cunning plan was to spread the disease to other pirate crews, weakening them. This weird practice showed how tough pirates could be and revealed their smart thinking in making their actions have a big impact on the open seas.

12. The Flying Gang: Pirates Made Great Teams

Pirates had this cool thing called the "Flying Gang." It's like when different pirate crews team up for a big adventure. Picture it as a bunch of friends deciding to work together. These alliances were not about countries or loyalty; they were like joining forces for a common goal.

So, pirates from different ships would unite, creating these temporary gangs. It was all about sharing skills and resources to become a stronger force on the seas. This teamwork made their attacks on other ships even more powerful and surprising.

The Flying Gang tradition showed how smart pirates were. Instead of focusing on their ship, they thought big and formed groups to tackle challenges. By teaming up, pirates ensured they stayed tough and unbeatable on the high seas.

13. Captain Kidd's Buried Treasure:

Captain Kidd, a legendary pirate, has left an intriguing legacy with his buried treasure. Kidd, known for his cunning exploits during the Golden Age of Piracy, was said to have hidden riches at various secret locations. The tradition of burying treasure wasn't just about wealth; it added an element of mystery and excitement to pirate lore.

Some believed Kidd buried his treasures to keep them safe from rivals, while others thought he did it to motivate his crew. Even today, treasure hunters embark on quests driven by the allure of discovering Captain Kidd's hidden fortunes, adding a touch of adventure to the ongoing fascination with pirate legends.

14. The Last Man Stranding:

Facing impossible odds, some pirate crews resorted to the brutal tradition known as "The Last Man Stranding." Here, pirates drew lots to pick one crew member who'd bravely fight until their last breath against overwhelming enemies. This desperate act aimed to scare off foes and give the rest of the crew a chance to escape or regroup.

It was a tough spectacle, showing the bravery of pirates in the toughest situations. "The Last Man Stranding" was a harsh reminder of the challenging life at sea, where survival sometimes meant making tough sacrifices and standing up to fate, no matter how tough it seemed.

End Note:

Pirate traditions were as varied and unpredictable as the seas they sailed. From democratic decision-making to brutal punishments, these swashbucklers left an indelible mark on history. The bizarre traditions explored here provide a glimpse into the unique and often shocking aspects of pirate life, challenging our preconceptions and adding complexity to these notorious figures of the high seas.

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