Originally Posted by Bleemus
You get the earring when you cross the equator. Good luck!
Originally Posted by StuM
Others will tell you it's for rounding Cape Horn (or both major capes).
Hehe I keep hearing that as well. But allow me to dismistify it all.
The Sailors earring in Portuguese Tradition stems from Catholic tradition. When a body is found afloat or is given up by the sea, no jewellery remains attached, gas build up and decomposition swelling take care of chains and rings the rocks will take care of the rest. The only thing commonly found on a body is the earring. As the Sailors in old times (and even now) were extremely religious they would wear the earing as a guarantee of a Catholic funeral. If a body was found afloat and not possible to recognise who it was, the priest would bless the body, he would be wrapped in a cloth weighted with stones and buried at sea. But if the body was wearing an earring, then the earring would be sold
and the money
would pay the meal for the grave diggers and the Priest for the mass to be given on his name. The richer the earring the more masses that would be said in his name. This tradition was very common also on the Portuguese War Navy
until about 1924 if I’m not mistaken. It was even specified that the earring must be worn on the left earlobe and be a simple ring. (some, if not most were also engraved)
To earn the right to wear a earring and be called a sailor, the apprentice sailor ( mancebo ) would have to learn for a few years with an older sailor. He would have to know how to repair and maintain a sailboat, and all its parts
, he would have to know star navigation
and when deemed competent enough he would then receive his earring upon the return from a long passage
or a blue water passage
. (blue water
from Portuguese mainland, Long passage: around the coast of Africa
to the colonies or to India
and Timor. )
When the time came, the “ Old Sailor” would offer his devotion to his saints by finally presenting the young sailor ( never younger then 16 never older then 19 ) with a simple earring that would be blessed by a priest in mass, then aboard the boat he would have his ear pierced by his mates ( involving a lot of the original Firewater, Aguardente de Figo ) There are tales that it was an old rusty nail against the mast
. I do not know if such tales are true)
In my family
after you learned how to sail and build boats and make your first passage at the age of 16 then Grandpa would give you the earring. Grandpa was always the “old Sailor”.
The Figure of the “Old Sailor” is a mark of respect for the knowledge accumulated by a life time at sea. The Portuguese coast not being known for its calm waters assured that an “old Sailor “ was either someone very lucky or very knowledgeable. Even in the Navy
it was always the Oldest Sailor independent of rank to whom befell the duty of the “making of the sailor “ (Temos homem,Temos Marinheiro ) at that time the “ mancebo “ ( young man no longer a child not yet a man) became a man and a Sailor with the right of a full crew share as pay.
I have been asked many times to be the patron of a new sailor that would like to wear the earring and I have only given 2 in my lifetime to people I consider Real Sailors. (according to Portuguese sailing tradition )
Phil will have to earn his. Tradition dictates.