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Pirate Traditions Most People Don't Know About

Pirates are one of the original subcultures, and like the punks and goths who appropriated their style centuries later their lifestyle and fashion choices were considered questionable by polite society- especially considering male pirates wore earrings and married other men.

Pirates didn't just wear earrings to be fashionable- they wore them to protect their hearing while firing cannons and as a form of life insurance:

The crafty sea criminals would hang wads of wax from their earrings to prevent this sound damage. They popped the waxy contraptions into their ears like a makeshift earplug when firing cannons.

The infamous piercings that pirates wore in their ears were actually insurance to make sure that they'd be given a proper burial. Whether gold or silver, the precious metal could be melted down and sold to pay for a casket and other funeral necessities even if a pirate's dead body washed ashore.

Some pirates went so far as to engrave the name of their home port on the inside of the earrings so that their bodies could be sent home for a proper burial.

Pirates also practiced gay marriage as far back as the 1600s, which is quite the practical practice when you consider practically every pirate and sailor on the High Seas was male:

Pirates spent long periods of time on ships surrounded by other men so it’s no surprise that some shared intimate relationships. Other pirates formalized same-sex relationships through a practice called matelotage, a French word that may be at the root of the pirate greeting "Ahoy mate."

In pirate society, two men could join into matelotage and share all their plunder, even receiving death benefits if one died before the other. Pirate mates would live together, exchange gold rings, and sometimes even share female prostitutes.

Read 12 Bizarre Pirate Traditions Most People Don't Know About here


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