USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘wake’
Folk Beliefs
Protection
Signs

Sailor Superstition: Dolphins swimming in the wake are good luck

Content:
Informant – “Dolphins are considered good luck when they swim with the ship. And it’s bad luck to kill a dolphin.”

Context:
JK – “Where does this belief come from?”

Informant – “I just think that dolphins are friendly to humans. They have a long history of…there’s stories of them chasing sharks away and swimming with humans. They are sweet creatures and really intelligent. That level of intelligence demands respect.”

JK – “Where did you hear it from?”

Informant – “I just grew up with that. My father would tell me about dolphins. And there have been a couple of times in my life where I’ve actually seen it. They’ll play in the wake of the ship. It’s really neat.”

Analysis:
There seems to be very logical reasons for this superstition. So much so, that it hardly seems superstitious. Dolphins are historically friendly/helpful creatures, so a pod following your ship is definitely a good thing. It’s hard to think of a valid reason to kill a dolphin, so it makes sense why doing so would be seen as bad luck.

Customs
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ocean Wake

“When someone dies in Encinitas, I think it’s a Hawaiian thing too, as part of the wake, we all get on surfboards and paddle out to the ocean.  We get in a circle, and have leis… and we say a prayer or if the person wasn’t spiritual, say some nice words and talk about the person.  Then they have leis or flowers of some sort and you let them float away in the ocean.  It’s the same thing as scattering ashes, without the ashes.”

The informant has been a part of the ritual before, and she learned it from her father who is a part of the surfing community in Encinitas.

This wake ritual goes along with the community that it is practiced in.  The ritual draws from the geographical location near the ocean and the surfing community in the area.  It is a way for everyone to be a part of the celebration of the deceased person’s life, and  the floating leis give a more peaceful picture around the harsh reality of death.

[geolocation]