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Holiday: International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19

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Did you know that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? In fact, this September marks the 10-year anniversary. Pirates have fascinated cultures for hundreds of years and if you have children, you have probably dressed them as a pirate for Halloween at least once. But what exactly is a pirate and why did men and women seek a life of adventure and plundering?


What be a Pirate?

What do you picture when you hear the word pirate?  It is probably a frightening looking, crusty sailor with an eye patch sailing the high seas in search of a merchant ship they can attack in hopes of collecting serious pirate booty. This is fairly accurate as the term pirate means “robber of the sea,” and whose life purpose is to attack and take things from other ships.

I have always been fascinated by pirates since I was a child and absolutely loved Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride—and frankly, still do! Some former government sailors chose to become pirates and gave up a life of following rules to one of complete freedom. But history shows that some governments would hire pirates to raid enemy ships. The pirate life really has fascinated people for hundreds of years! (Source: The Big Book of Pirates)

 Robbers of the Sea

The history of pirates robbing the seas dates back thousands of years—back to when ships were first built to transport goods across lands. The great ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome had concerns that pirates would attack their merchant ships and steal their valuables, including wheat, wine, and olive oil. Pirates have plundered most of the world’s seas and today one of the most popular places for piracy is the South China Sea. During the Golden Age of Piracy, they were most active in the Caribbean. (Source: The Big Book of Pirates)

Thar Be a Lassie on Board

Cheng I Sao, or Madame Cheng, was one of the most famous and feared women pirates who built up an elaborate 2,000 ship pirate fleet by gathering the pirate gangs in the South China Seas and the Pearl River Delta. Mary Read was another famous female pirate who fought next to Anne Bonny, both of whom kept their identity a secret by wearing men’s clothing and fighting as tough, if not tougher than their shipmates. Grace O’Malley was a sixteenth-century Irish woman who was feared by the English men who came to conquer her country. She practiced the craft of piracy and plundering and led rebellions against the invading English. (Source: Ireland’s Pirate Queen)

 International Talk Like a Pirate Day

International Talk Like a Pirate Day was started by two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers back in the 1990’s. These mates were playing racquetball and came to the conclusion the game would be more interesting if they both encouraged each other by “speaking pirate.” Thus, the day was born and from that day forward, they would talk like pirates on September 19th of each year. Fast forward to 2002, and they contacted Dave Barry, the famous columnist, who felt this was a necessary and important day for the world to celebrate. His post in the Miami Herald in September 2002 set the stage to an impressive amount of support worldwide. I had a chance to speak to the founders, Cap’n “Mark Summers” Slappy, and Chumbucket “John Baur” and asked them if they ever could imagine that this idea would become a national holiday celebrated around the world with an impressive 80,000 Facebook followers. Both mentioned that it has far exceeded any expectations they might have had but that they are happy to see so many participate and have fun with this day.

AYE! I hope ye join in the celebration on the 19th and speak some pirate! Your kids will love it!

Do you celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day? What are some of your favorite pirate traditions? 


Tessaro, Chuck., The Big Book of Pirates, Courage Books by Running Press. 2004.

Chambers, Anne., Ireland’s Pirate Queen, MJF Books 1998,2003

International Talk Like a Pirate website:

Captain Funny Bones Photo courtesy of

Melissa Northway, M.S., is an awarding-winning children’s book author and has loved pirates since she was a young lassie.  Penelope the Purple Pirate is a fun story about a young girl who likes to have adventures with her friends and has won numerous awards.  Penelope is hosting a Facebook Party on September 19th to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day where loads of pirate booty will be handed out.  Details can be found on her Facebook Page:!/pages/Penelope-the-Purple-Pirate/184530521575620. You can find Melissa at: and

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.
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