Created by two friends in 1995 as a joke, Talk Like a Pirate Day, on September 19, has become a beloved faux-holiday that lets everyone channel their inner Jack Sparrow.
Although real pirates likely didn’t use much of the vocabulary we now think of as “pirate lingo,” Talk Like a Pirate Day gives us a fun opportunity to break out of our routine, learn some history, and celebrate a bygone era.
So grab some grog(if you’re of drinking age), gather up some maties, and let your imagination take you on an adventure on the high seas!
Yar harrr! Ahoy there ye lily livered blaggards! It be Talk Like A Pirate Day, and that means it’s time for pillaging and imbibing of rum! Pirates have been all the rage in recent years, and out of that rage came an insane and completely piratical idea. There should be a day dedicated to keeping the piratical language alive, and more importantly the piratical tradition.
History of Talk Like A Pirate Day
It was June 6, 1995, and there was a group of men playing racquetball, and throughout they were shouting encouragement to each other. On this particular day, for reasons unbeknownst to them, they started shouting piratical slang at each other. From there it just kind of took on a life of its own, and they realized by the end of the game that it was necessary that they establish a holiday to celebrate that encouraged the use of such a fine vernacular. The first thing they needed was a date, and it just so happened that the date selected was the birthday of his ex-wife.
For the next seven years they honored this holiday, in relative obscurity, until they happened upon the email address of one Dave Barry, a syndicated columnist and author of a great number of books. He also happened to be hilarious, like any good pirate should be. From there it’s all history, Dave Barry promoted the holiday, and it’s been one amazing year after another as people all over the country celebrate this auspicious holiday.
How to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day
Well mate, celebrating talk like a pirate day be as easy as a day in the tropic, you simply need to turn up your piratical vernacular, pour a few fruity drinks with umbrellas in them, and gather with friends to celebrate the day in your piratey best! There are songs to be song and wenches to be clenched, and who can resist a backyard barbecue with grilled pineapple, salmon made by wokkin’ the plank, and a perhaps inappropriately large amount of pure sugar cane rum? Talk Like A Pirate Day is comin’, are you ready to pirate it up? We know that we’re going to!
History of Talk Like a Pirate Day
Talk Like a Pirate Day was born in 1995, when two friends from Oregon jokingly created the holiday while playing racquetball. They celebrated it quietly for a few years, sharing the joke with a small group of friends. One day in 2002, they wrote to humor columnist Dave Barry asking him to be the spokesperson for National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Amused by the idea, Barry agreed. He wrote a column about the holiday, giving it national prominence and spawning a wave of Talk Like a Pirate Day events and celebrations across the country.
From Treasure Island to Pirates of the Caribbean, pirates continue to capture our imagination. Romanticized in literature and film as rugged outlaws, pirates have been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. First recorded in Asian seas after the collapse of the Chinese Han dynasty in the 2nd century, piracy grew across the world with the increase in maritime technology and ocean commerce that happened after the discovery of the New World.
When we think of pirates, we commonly picture the so-called Golden Age of Piracy as described in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” Published in 1883, the adventure novel was hugely influential in creating the pirate as a pop culture stereotype. “Treasure Island” gave us X-marked maps, shoulder-perched parrots, and buried treasure, motifs that continue to anchor any pirate-themed set.
Opened in 1967, Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride remains one of the park’s most popular attractions. The last attraction Walt worked on before his death, “Pirates” immerses visitors in the richly detailed world of a Caribbean port falling victim to plunder.
Unfortunately, most of the fun phrases we attribute to pirates are pure fiction. But that doesn’t need to keep you from enjoying this good-humored holiday with your friends!
Talk Like a Pirate Day timeline
- September, 2002
First National Talk Like a Pirate Day
After humorist Dave Barry wrote about the new fake holiday in his column, people nationwide started celebrating TLAP Day.
Female pirate Ching Chih commands a fleet of 800 ships and more than 100,000 pirates.
"Golden age of piracy"
The increase in maritime trade and travel between Europe, the Americas, and Africa provided ample opportunities for Caribbean pirates.
- 2nd century
Piracy first appears
The earliest recorded pirate attacks begin after China's Han Dynasty falls.
Talk Like a Pirate Day FAQs
Did pirates really talk like that?
Sort of. Although some familiar words and phrases do come from authentic sailor jargon, most of what we consider “pirate language” can be attributed to Disney’s 1950 movie Treasure Island and Robert Newton’s performance as Long John Silver.
Do pirates still exist?
Yes, but on a much smaller scale than in previous centuries. However, modern-day pirates still occasionally attack ships passing through international shipping channels.
Are all pirates men?
No. Several famous women had successful careers as pirates, including Anne Bonney, Mary Read, and Ching Chih. At the height of her career, Ching Chih commanded a pirate fleet of over 100,000.
5 Fascinating Facts About Pirates Of The Caribbean
You can eat dinner inside
The Blue Bayou restaurant, located in the "swamp" at the start of the ride, offers a full menu of Creole cuisine.
Walt never got to see the ride open
Although he oversaw the design and construction of the ride, Walt Disney died three months before the ride opened to the public.
The fire effects were a little too realistic
Concerned with how real the fire effects inside the ride looked, Anaheim's fire chief asked Disney to install an automatic shutoff, triggered if a real fire broke out.
There might be a real human skull in the ride
While Disney has never confirmed the rumors, it's possible that one of the decorative skulls inside Pirates is part of a real human skeleton. This wouldn't be the first time a human corpse became part of a theme park attraction!
The ride is the longest in the park
The boat ride through the 1,838-foot world of Pirates of the Caribbean is almost 15 minutes long, making it the longest ride in the park.
Talk Like a Pirate Day Activities
Talk like a pirate!
Brush up on your lingo using an online pirate glossary and try your hand at speaking like a pirate for the day.
Read up on real pirate history
Learn to separate truth from fiction by reading about the real historical pirates that terrorized the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or other parts of the world.
Attend a local pirate-themed event
You can find many pirate-themed events that celebrate pirate lore and culture; check local calendars to see if your town has one.
Why We Love Talk Like a Pirate Day
It’s for everyone
Without a basis in any specific religion or ideology, Talk Like a Pirate Day encourages people of all ages and creeds to celebrate something silly together.
It gives us a chance to learn
Get in character, enjoy some grog, and read up on how piracy actually affected the New World and why pirates were so feared.
It’s an excuse to watch some great movies
Whether action-packed, funny, or both, pirate movies can be a great way to hang out with family on Talk Like a Pirate Day.