No Bananas on A Boat – Fisherman’s Superstition

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Informant recounted an occupational superstition among fisherman to never bring a banana with you on a boat, as doing so causes bad luck.


Personal Interpretation: This superstition primarily speaks to an occupational folkloric culture–it is primarily practiced among fishermen. As their primary concern is bringing in as many fish as possible, any tradition resulting in “bad luck” usually correlates with bringing back in a reduced catch. By virtue of its status as occupational folklore, this superstition provides a way for individuals to prove themselves among the “folk” by knowing the “lore”–abiding by it makes one more strongly correlated with being a fisherman.

My informant added additional interpretation that he has heard stories of this superstition originating from individuals contending that bananas did not transport well on boats, which he personally does not believe.


My informant is a video game producer and recreational fisherman in Seattle, Washington. He is in his 50s, of European descent (primarily Italian), and has been fishing locally for nearly twenty years. He recalls first hearing this superstition from his fishing mentor in 2006, when he was just starting out. He maintains the tradition to this day, and I recall hearing this superstition from him when I was in elementary school.

When asked about the degree to which other fisherman maintain this superstition, he mentioned that it is somewhat well known but that he wouldn’t be surprised if he encountered other local fisherman not observing it. He also noted that he believes it to be slightly localized to the Pacific Northwest, and would be surprised to hear it being significantly observed elsewhere.