Did Pirates celebrate Christmas?
In short…yes! But we don’t know a great ideal, and much of it is reading between the lines!
Pirates primarily came from Christian countries where Christmas was a major social and religious holiday, which involved feasts, alcohol, music and having a good time. Pirates were always up for having a good time, therefore Christmas was a no-brainer to these outlaws at sea, as it involved many practises Pirates knew and loved.
However, a Pirate Christmas would have been a multi-cultural one. On a pirate ship, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and several kinds of Pagans might live and work side by side. Pirates had no ambitions to convert anyone to anything, therefore if one of the crew had an idea for any type of celebration, it was likely to be warmly welcomed by everyone.
Apart from churchgoing, the average Englishman celebrated Christmas by eating fine food, drinking spiced wine or liquor, singing, dancing, and playing games. Pirates would go all out for a christmas meal, and look to stock up on the finest of food and drink for the day opposed to feasting on stale biscuits and dried beans. A Pirate Christmas meal would entail perhaps a large cooked boar, freshly caught fish, fresh chicken, beef, turtle, goat, goose, turkey, duck or pigeon cooked and marinated in wine and an array of herbs and spices, surrounded by fresh/pickled vegetables and fruit such as cabbage, olives, onions, grapes, mangoes, not to mention eggs of course, to then finally be washed down with excessive, beer, ale, port and rum.
They also enjoyed dancing the traditional men’s dances known to sailors, as well as entertaining themselves with traditional Sailor songs (and Christmas Carols). Traditional songs like “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings” wouldn’t be written for well over a hundred years, but “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” and most appropriately “I Saw Three Ships” were all songs contemporary with Pirates.
We'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas from everyone here at SACANTICS, and we hope you have a SACANTICAL day celebrating with friends and family! x