When you think of the salty sea and sailors, you might imagine pirates, tall ships, and scurvy. But one thing you may need to think about is bananas and why are bananas on a boat bad luck?
For centuries, sailors have believed that bringing a banana aboard a ship or boat could bring bad luck. It is thought that having bananas on board a ship or fishing boat will bring bad luck and possibly lead to shipwrecks or other disasters. But why? Let’s take a closer look at this curious superstition.
The origins of the banana curse
The origins of the curse of the banana are murky, but most people agree that the belief dates back to 19th-century sailing vessels. This belief is rooted in the history of seafaring, where bananas were not commonly transported by boat due to their tendency to rot quickly and attract pests such as venomous spiders and rats, which could spread disease and damage cargo.
Regardless of its origin story, it has long been believed that carrying bananas onboard can lead to disaster after many boats never made it back. This superstition is not limited to sailing either; fishermen also avoid bringing bananas onto their ships out of fear that they will not catch fish or they might attract sharks or other sea creatures. It has even been suggested that bananas may be toxic to fish!
The superstition can be traced back to the early days of the banana trade when the fruit was considered a luxury item that was only available to a select few.
Because bananas were so rare, they were often transported by boat, which was risky, especially having to deliver them before they would spoil. As a result, many sailors began associating banana cargo with lousy luck, and the superstition quickly spread among the maritime community.
The fruit itself isn’t actually cursed; it’s more likely that the association between bananas and bad luck comes from their capacity to attract poisonous pests when stored in close quarters with other food items.
In fact, some boaters still recommend keeping them out of lockers or compartments where food is stored just in case – though many modern boats don’t have this problem thanks to better storage conditions and insulation materials.
Another possible explanation is rooted in religion. In some cultures, bananas are seen as a symbol of fertility and therefore considered taboo on ships where unmarried men lived and worked together in close quarters. As such, this association with sexual arousal could be seen as an unwelcome source of distraction during long voyages at sea.
The science behind the superstition
The association between bringing bananas on board and bad luck on boats can be explained by several factors. The most obvious is the fruit’s tendency to rot quickly, which could spread disease and pests on board. Additionally, bananas emit ethylene gas, which can cause other fruits to ripen near them, making them spoil more quickly.
However, there are also psychological and cultural factors that may have contributed to the development of this superstition. For example, there are many theories that sailors may have associated bananas with the exotic and unknown, which can often be associated with danger and uncertainty. Additionally, the fear of shipwrecks and other disasters at sea may have led sailors to look for anything to blame for their misfortune.
The ultimate symbol of bad luck
Regardless of its origins, many crew members today are still superstitious and believe that bringing bananas aboard can bring bad luck. In fact, it’s become an unwritten rule among seafarers to avoid storing them on board for fear of inviting danger and misfortune upon themselves and their shipmates. The mere sight of a banana makes some sailors and fishermen break into a cold sweat!
Despite our best efforts to debunk myths such as these with science and logic, some people will always cling to what they believe in—even if it’s as seemingly silly as avoiding bananas on boats!
On your next fishing trip or voyage, we suggest you celebrate the banana with a modern take on Grog instead of worrying about the myth that bananas are bad luck. We recently discovered this cocktail recipe – why not give it a try?
Golden Banana Grog
- 1 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
- 1 3/4 oz Denizen Aged White Rum (Sub any Trinidadian Aged White Rum)
- 1/2 oz Smith & Cross Navy Strength Jamaica Rum (Sub any funky Jamaican Rum)
- 1 1/4 oz Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz Orgeat
- Club Soda
- Garnish: 3 Banana slices & Umbrella
Combine ingredients over ice and short shake. Strain into Collins glass over ice. Top with Club Soda and garnish.
The curse of the banana has been passed down through generations of sailors for centuries now – but why? Most likely, bananas attract pests if stored near other food items onboard boats or ships. While this superstition isn’t necessarily true anymore due to improved storage conditions on modern vessels, it’s still worth bearing in mind if you’re planning on taking a banana out to sea! So next time you plan your next seafaring voyage, leave the bananas at home or enjoy a good banana grog instead!