Friday, June 17, 2016

Sailors Don’t Clink Glasses – Navy Superstition

Navy Customs and Traditions

At the start of a party or drinking session  Civilians or Pongos may clink their glasses and say “Cheers” – and then start drinking!!! 

But – you may notice that a Naval Officer does not clink glasses  but he will just hold up his glass in his hand  and say “Cheers” followed by a toast.

Sailors don’t clink glasses.

Here is the reason for this Naval Custom (or you may call it a Navy Superstition): 


Most people clink glasses when they meet over a drink and make a toast for good luck and good health.

However  Naval Officers never clink glasses when they make a toast. 

They just hold up their glasses and say “Cheers” – and voice the toast.

The reason for this is as follows.

In the early days of seafaring  many years ago – when a sailor died at sea  his body was buried at sea  committed to the deep waters  to the Davy Jones’s Locker at the bottom of the ocean. 

(This practice of consigning a dead sailor’s body to the sea is followed even now by some navies and in case it is not possible to send the deceased sailor’s body back for last rites)

The ship’s bell would be sounded 8 times as a mark of respect to the departed soul of the deceased mariner during the funeral service for burial at sea.

On a ship at sea  8 bells are sounded at the end of a watch.

The 8 bells sounded at the funeral of the sailor signified “End of the Watch” for the dead sailor.

This the striking of “Eight Bells” (a nautical euphemism for “finished watch”) during burial at sea symbolized the obituary of the dead seaman.

The sounding of 8 bells was a way of pronouncing that the dead sailor’s duty watch was finished forever.

The sound of clinking glasses is similar to the solemn toll of the ship’s bell when the body of a dead sailor was committed to the deep sea.

Thus  it was assumed that the clinking sound will herald the death of a sailor.

Hence  clinking of glasses on board ships was considered a bad omen.

There was another superstition to lessen the gravity of the evil portent  in case a sailor inadvertently clinked his glass by mistake.

The sailor quickly silenced a clink that had mistakenly occurred with his hands  or he quickly clinked a second time. 

It was thought that this would confuse the devil enough so that he might take a soldier instead.

So  if you are in the Navy  it is best not to clink your glass.

And  if by mistake  you clink your glass  remember to quickly clink it a second time.

Of course  this is all a myth  a navy superstition.

But  the next time you see someone reluctant to clink his glass  you know that he is a navy officer, sailor or veteran.

Cheers !!!

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