Tag Archives: voyage

Breaking Bottles

This folk practice is breaking a bottle on the neck of a ship. This practice is a tradition performed whenever a ship was leaving on a voyage and sometimes was the first voyage that boat had made. Sailors and seamen are typically very superstitious because of the randomness of the ocean conditions. Therefore, many created small rituals such as this in order to create good luck and good weather for the upcoming trip. It was always performed before the ship launched and a bottle, typically champagne, was smashed across the foremost part of the boat.

The informant grew up on the East Coast in a sailing/nautical community. Because of this, he was constantly surrounded by much of the lore and traditions that accompany this culture. He did not learn it from any one person but was merely part of the set of customs. It was not done that frequently because it is typically done for a large trip but is still certainly part of the lore. They remember it because of their interest in sailing from an early age, meaning that the subject spent every day for parts of the year within that community.

I believe that this practice was probably old when technology wasn’t as sophisticated as today. Because of this, bad weather could spell disaster and there was sometimes little way to predict it. The conditions at sea were likely harsh and it was important to keep morale up, explaining the use of traditions and superstitions such as this.

No Sea Voyage on Tuesdays

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a sophomore at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Mexico.  He has moved around both Mexico and the U.S., spending significant time in Illinois.  He currently lives in Southern California.


Context: I was interviewing Stan about folk beliefs and traditions that he has been exposed to.  He shared with me the following folk belief common among the people in Mexico.


Item: “El martes no te cases ni te embarcues” – never embark on a voyage on a Tuesday.  If you do, your ship will sink.  Even if you don’t believe it, people still don’t “test” it.”


Informant Analysis: Not sure about why Tuesday is bad, but people in his town heed this rule.


Analysis: Although the specific day of Tuesday might be related to some distant family member or someone in the village experiencing bad sailing luck on a Tuesday, the superstition has stuck around and pervaded in the town of the informant.  Most likely, empirical evidence would show no merit to the claim, but the people in this town must subscribe to the idea that the day of the week inherently has virtues or characteristics that are associated with it.