Why Did Pirates Wear Earrings?

Those of us who live in the Tampa Bay area are in the middle of Pirate Season. Gasparilla, to be exact, is an invasion of pirates, and festivals featuring pirate ships, art, music and athletic competition. To top it all, the Tampa Bay History Center introduced an over the top Pirate exhibit last week.

After seeing an article in the latest newsletter from Florida Society of Goldsmiths, I thought it fitting to write about the pirate’s earring. The article was submitted by Jean Marie DeSpiegler and her source was the book, "Now You Know, Big Book of Answers" by Doug Lennox.

Pirates in the Gasparilla Parade.

Pirates in the Gasparilla Parade.

In the old days, earrings were given to young pirates to commemorate a first voyage or a treacherous journey. A gold hoop was considered a protective talisman with healing powers. It was thought to prevent seasickness, cure bad eyesight and keep you from drowning! However, this reason makes the most sense to me. Many sailors, especially those who manned the ships’ cannons dangled wax from their earrings to use as earplugs.

Arrrgh… and Happy Gasparilla!