I am having writers’ block—which means that it is another installment of: 

“Brystan writes about a random holiday.” 

The last one I did was about crayons, which I ended up being sort of proud of.

Some obvious ones fit really well in the context of a library blog: 

  • International Cat Day (August 8) – especially if you’re a Phoenix branch patron 
  • Book Lovers Day (August 9)  
  • Bad Poetry Day (August 18) 
  • It also happens to be Romance Awareness month, which I think also applies to the romance genre. 

But what I am going to talk about is the fact that August also happens to be International Pirate Month! 

I used to be a pirate. Okay, not a real pirate. But I’d wear costumes, sing shanties, dance, do skits, and perform at festivals. I was that kind of pirate. 

We’ve also seen a lot of piratical fun here at the library with the Treasure Reading theme for Summer. If you made it out to Jacksonville a few weekends ago for the Children’s Festival, you might have listened to me read you a pirate-themed story, in my pirate garb, for their “X Marks the Spot” theme. 

So, with as many summers as I’ve had that were full of pirate fun, I had no idea that August is International Pirate Month. But all of this got me thinking—why do people like pirates? 

Pirates were (and are) not good, to say the least. Pirates commit horrendous acts, and yet they’ve become a pop-culture phenomenon. But it’s not just any pirates we attach ourselves to—specifically, the pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy. 

From 1716 to 1726, thousands of sailors and privateers, unemployed by the end of the war of the Spanish Succession, turned en masse to piracy. The modern conception of pirates, as depicted in popular culture, was born during this time. Tall tales and legends surrounded the most famous buccaneers like Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet (Our Flag Means Death, anyone?), Captain Kidd, Black Bart, Calico Jack, Anne Bonney, and others. Because pirates made their living by terrorizing, they were viewed in a very negative light. However, as pirates began to appear in popular literary works, the public perception of swashbucklers started to change. 

In 1724 Daniel Defoe published A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates. As a type of historical fiction, this book was an enormous success.  

Pirates continued to be shown as loveable troublemakers over the next 100 years –The Pirates of Penzance and Treasure Island being some popular ones. Now, we have cartoons, live-action franchises, theme park rides, TV shows (again, Our Flag Means Death), Tik Tok shanty crazes, and pirate festivals. 

We also have a great deal of evidence pointing to the atrocities committed by most pirates. Yet, while we all know pirates were horrible, we romanticize them. And I think the answer as to why is really quite simple. 

The thing that we love about pirates is their want for adventure.  

Their thirst for living life on their own terms, for not having a 9-5 job to go to, and just exploring the world. 

We love the idea of being carefree. 

We love the idea of fighting for what we want (and let’s admit, swords are pretty cool) and for not being tied down by authority. When we think about pirates in that light, we’d love them. Of course, we’d want to be them. 

But, we can’t all be pirates, even the festival kind. 

However, you can check out some of those books and movies to immerse yourself in some continued piratical fun. 

Piratey Picture Books | Main library (jcls.org) 

Maritime Middle Grade Reads | Main library (jcls.org) 

Piratical Reads for Teens | Main library (jcls.org) 

You’re Never too Old to Read About Pirates | Main library (jcls.org) 

Also—it’s not too late to sign up for Summer Reading! Treasure your reading until August 31.