During a recent fishing trip, my son and husband told me I brought bad luck to the boat because I had some Mike & Ikes in my bag that were banana flavored. They said it could cause them to not catch any fish, for someone to fall overboard, or even for the motor to quit working. I thought they were joking with me.
No. Apparently they were not joking around. Apparently in the world of anglers, it’s bad luck to have a banana on board. Being the social historian that I am, I dug in to research the origins of this fishing superstition.
Some believe the superstition originated in the 1700s because bananas would float to the surface of a ship wreck. Others argue that bananas, which are quick to ripen, ferment, and rot, would cause fires in the boats of the 1700s and 1800s. Another thought is that bananas are a delicacy to both spiders and termites, which anglers would not want on their fishing vessels (especially in the early years of primarily wooden boats). Some even believe it’s just because they become super smelly or the peels become a slipping hazard.
Regardless of how it came to be a superstition, it’s a real thing. So much so that some boat owners won’t even allow Banana Boat sunscreen on their property…or even banana flavored chewy candies!!!
It made me start to think about how completely routine driven and superstitious fishermen are in 2022…and if they were that superstitions during the time Jesus walked the earth.
Fishing during New Testament times was labor intensive and did not involve the rod, reel and lures we know today. Rather, they would have cast nets from the boat or the shoreline (see Matthew 17:24-27). Cast, Cast, Cast, Repeatedly. Until they caught enough fish. By today’s CrossFit standards, that would be quite the shoulder workout!
Any given superstition is a belief that actions, which are not related to another task, could be altered by an action, belief, or object. It’s thought to change our luck in some regard. And in Biblical times, they would probably have had some superstitions. They likely had a preferred day or method to mend the nets. Maybe they had a favored side of the boat to throw the nets off or maybe they had thoughts on how many people could be on a boat on any given day.
The Bible cautions us about superstitious behavior as a means of idolatry. For instance, in 1 Kings 18:20-40, Elijah diligently explores the foolishness of superstitious beliefs. Furthermore, he challenges the priests of Baal to articulate the realness of their god verses the One True God. Paul also cautioned against superstitious behavior with “little g gods” lest the audience become confused about what our Lord was requiring of us in followership.
Clearly these are two examples dealing with worship of idols and ultimately where one would spend eternity, which is much more serious than if a boat motor would quit or one wouldn’t catch fish for the day. The superstitions are real…but one is very serious…and the other seems more jovial.
I’d urge the readers on the Iron Porch to use discernment this week about superstitions. Are they playing a serious role in your life? A fun-loving jovial role in your life? Or no role at all?
And for goodness sake…don’t plan on bringing banana bread on your next fishing expedition!