Travels Diary

Sailors’ superstitions: Baptism is obligatory!

14 June 2019 | | Reading time 2 minutes

It was Aristotle who said “There are the living, the dead and those who go to the sea.” To put to sea and face its dangers, sailors protected themselves with legends, superstitions and rituals that today have become infamous. We invite you to navigate through and decipher some of them with us in a series of articles on this theme!

Baptism obligatory!

This ceremony combines both religious and pagan dimensions. The first part consists of prayers. Thanks to being christened, Men and ships are now under the control of the deities. The second part of the christening is the most famous: the smashing of a bottle of alcohol against the hull! Several hypotheses are put forward to explain this. Some say that at the time, seawater was thrown against the boat to familiarize it with its future environment. Then the idea developed that “A ship that has not tasted wine will taste blood”. This English proverb would explain the origin of the tradition of alcohol. Others explain it by the legend of the Trojan War: Agamemnon, in order to have good winds, sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia, according to the theory of his diviner and applied his daughter’s blood on the hull of his ship in order to calm the Gods, the purpose being to avoid shipwrecks, storms and other perils of the sea. In any case, modern generations have adopted champagne as a sign of celebration and luck! That is why the hulls of ships today receive bubbles for their christening.

However, it must be taken into account that sometimes the bottle doesn’t break. And this is a bad omen! This is why, in general, the bottles are therefore slightly scored in advance. To avoid any disappointment, the throw must be straightforward (so that the champagne froth spreads over the hull of the boat)… and noisy, because noise keeps away evil spirits!

 

This myth is reinforced by the sinking of the Titanic, which had never been christened.

Note: If you want to rename your boat, there is a whole process to follow! Details here.

What about you? Tell us about your beliefs and superstitions on board your catamaran!