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a burning campfire ready for a sock burning traditon

Culture

The Sock Burning Sailing Tradition

Sailing seasons come and go but a strange tradition continues to happen across the United States in early Spring. This odd sailing event has become a tradition among sailors. It signifies the end of winter and the start of summer and has been going for years!. The tradition is a community gathering of sock burning. The goal of this tradition is to shed those warm winter socks and prepare for bare feet with flip-flops in the Spring and Summer weather-and sailing.  

History Of Where Sock Burning Started

The winter of 1978 was one that history won’t ever forget. It was the winter of blizzard after blizzard, whether you were born in that era or not, it is something that is still frequently talked about, especially when winters are bad. You might hear grandpa say, “The Blizzard of 1978 had us all homebound and snowed in.”  It is considered one of the worst winters of all time with massive depths of snow. Shoveling wasn’t even an option! For people who had to work in such weather, socks, socks and more socks were needed to keep their feet from freezing. 

Boatbuilder Bob Turner had enough cold weather in 1978. When spring came, he threw his socks into a fire pit because he was done wearing them for the season. He didn’t realize that this act would create such a tradition in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Now countless people in the community join in to get ready for the Spring.

The Annapolis Maritime Museum even has an annual Spring event with Oysters, music, and you guessed it…sock burning. Sailors across the United States adopted this tradition and it signifies that socks are gone for the season!

Etiquette At The Sock Burning Event

Some people hate feet but if you are accustomed to sailing, you are already aware there are bare feet swinging everywhere. If you have a dislike for feet then sailing might not be for you. For those of you who entertain this tradition, here are a few toe etiquette tips:

Visit Your Local Pedicure/Nail Salon

Spring means summer is coming, and you want your feet and toes to shed that dead winter skin. Treat yourself to a good pedicure to get your feet summer-ready. Men and women alike love the pampering after a long winter shut down to air out their feet.  

What Socks Do You Burn?

It is the advice of the locals not to bring items you don’t want to part with. Don’t bring socks that are memorable to you or ones that you’re going to cry over watching them burn up in flames. It is best to leave those at home. This is a fun tradition and not one to be upset over! Cotton or wool socks are the only materials recommended. This is because other socks are made with fibres that are highly combustible, create smoke, or will pollute the air you are breathing with toxins. 

Speaking Before Tossing Your Socks

It is customary for one to speak before they toss those winter socks in the fire. Limit your shared information to a few sentences or thank everyone for coming. You could even give a short 3 liner about summer plans. Keep it simple and entertaining. 

Keep Those Toes In The Grass Or Sand

Once you have thrown those old winter socks in the fire, keep the tradition alive by showing off those freshly manicured toes. While everyone else is tossing their socks in the fire, stay foot naked, relax, and let your toes breathe after being contained to socks all winter just to keep them warm. If you don’t mind the feeling, it’s refreshing to have fresh grass or sand underneath your feet.

Some Final Thoughts

bright blue pair of boardroom socks.

If you don’t mind bare feet, this tradition is one to be a part of. The fun of burning your winter socks, the changing of seasons, sailing, grass, and sand after a long winter’s woe may be just what you need to start the new season off right. 

When it comes to replacing those discarded socks then take a look at our range of awesome socks for every occasion!

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