14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

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How Zoom Santas Are Connecting With Kids Virtually in 2020

Tim Mossholder, Unsplash
Tim Mossholder, Unsplash

In his 21 years as a professional Santa, Mr. Kringle of Mr. Kringle & Company has dealt with every type of temperament and gift request from his young clientele. But 2020 presented him with a new challenge: How was he supposed to connect with kids when he couldn’t be near them? As was the case with so many issues this year, the internet was the answer.

“It’s not the real in-person visit, but it’s still a personal visit,” Mr. Kringle told Mental Floss. “And kids already understand what’s happening on Zoom. They’re already Zooming their classrooms to some degree and have been doing it for a few months now, so they understand it, and they understand the dynamic.”

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Kringle is one of many Santas offering virtual meet-and-greets this holiday season. For $48 to $58, families can sign up to have a personal streaming session with Santa Claus from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Prerecorded messages from Father Christmas himself are also available for $28.

Meetings kicked off on November 21, and Mr. Kringle has already seen an incredible response. “We’re having an international reach," he says. "A lot of people are reaching out to us from Canada. We heard of an inquiry from India today. People are looking to engage with Mr. Kringle, and given this technology, it can happen any time and any place.”

Even Santas who have experience connecting with kids virtually anticipate a very different holiday season in 2020. The Cameo Santa has been a professional Santa for decades and on Cameo for the last three years. He tells Mental Floss that this season he’s expecting to get five times the amount of requests he got this same time last year.

“In my 26 years of being a professional Santa, probably the most parties I have had in one day was five,” the Cameo Santa says. “Being the Cameo Santa has given me the opportunity to touch many more lives and spread way more Christmas spirit than I ever could’ve dreamed was possible.” In addition to recording personalized Cameos for $65, he’s also available for Zoom meetings.

Santas are employing some creative strategies this year in an effort to keep everyone healthy. At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, kids are forbidden from sitting on Santa’s lap, and they can only interact with him from a distance. At Aalborg Zoo in Denmark, Santa is ensconced in a snow globe.

Still, a virtual meeting is the safest option for families hoping to see Santa this year, and beyond the health aspect, it comes with some surprising benefits.

The Cameo Santa recalls a review he received from one mother describing the immediate impact of his video message. “I started mentioning the things the children needed to work on to stay on the nice list, and that was to start keeping their room clean," he says. "So that was the first thing I mentioned in my mild but firm suggestions [of] what to do. She said she could not stop laughing, because right there in the middle of the Cameo, both boys jumped up and ran to their rooms and started cleaning the room up! Talk about impact. Ho ho ho!”

For Mr. Kringle of Mr. Kringle & Company, the biggest upside to meeting children through Zoom is the opportunity to continue a tradition in a year when so much has been put on hold. He says, “I would hate to think you’ve got a 7-, 8-, 9-year-old who's on the brink—you know what I mean?—and the year goes by with no visit from Santa. That they can still have this will maybe keep them believing one more year.”