Wednesday, February 04, 2009 – Crossing the Line Ceremony! Are you a Pollywog??
Crossing the 180th Meridian of Longitude
We are now 6 hours behind Delaware time/Eastern time.
The Crossing the Line Ceremony is intended to commemorate a sailor’s first crossing of the equator. The ceremony owes its origin to ancient pagan rites connected with propitiation of the Greek sea god Poseidon, known to the Romans as Neptune. In classical times it was the custom to mark the rounding of a significant headland by making a sacrificial offering to the appropriate deity. In more recent history, the ceremony as we know it today was originally seen as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure that their new shipmates were capable of handling long, rough trips to sea. Sailors who have already crossed the line, are nicknamed Shellbacks, and those who have not are known as Pollywogs.
“His Imperial Majesty, Neptune of the Deep, his Queen and Seaweed Court of Mermaids, Able Aides and all other Swimmers-on, will Board Queen Victoria at 11:30am, today, Wednesday 4th February. This historical tradition dates back to the 14th century. Since it had been decided that the world was round and not flat, the Spanish and Portuguese explorers ventured further south and west without fear of sailing off the edge of the world. The excitement of sailing into the southern part of the world became a special event commemorated in a quasi religious/mythological play involved King Neptune and his court who were ‘crossing the line’ for the first time. These initiations took on various forms, some of which were highly dangerous. ‘Pollywogs’ would be coated with various nasty liquids found in the bilge of the ship and then suspended by the ankles and plunged into the sea. The modern day ‘Crossing the Line Ceremony’ has changed little for hundreds of years and in fact contains a speech by King Neptune which was originally made in 1393.”
Swam and watched as the crew prepared the Pavilion pool for the noontime ceremony for the Pollywogs and Shellbacks. What is this ceremony? Deck chairs were re-arranged and the trolleys and towels were prepared. We agreed to be inducted in the “milder” of the two inductions and were led in front of Neptune’s Court – King Neptune, (a male) Queen with huge balloons for breasts, mermaids in slinky costumes and long blonde hair (the dancers from the production shows), and pirates in full costume. We were booed and slapped on the neck with a dead fish! Yech!
But this was nothing compared to the treatment the others received!!! They had mixtures of all kinds of food slathered all over their bodies and hair --- spaghetti, raw eggs, sausages, jello, melted chocolate!, pudding, tomatoes, cut-up fresh fruit and vegetables (at least they were ripe ones!). It was disgusting!!! And they were allowed to jump into the pool (MY POOL!!) and clean off. It was grouse.
We did receive an official certificate of the crossing and they did perform a very thorough cleaning of the pool. Thank goodness!
We talked to the World Cruise Hostess, Gaynor, met with some friends, worked on the cocktail party and readied for dinner. The entertainment tonight was Comedy Juggler, EDGE, and Mark Adams, singer. I also stayed up to watch the 10:30 PM showing of “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”!
OK, signing off, your newest Shellback, Luisa