What’s a Sock Burning, Anyway?

It's unusual, that's for sure. 

A truly unique sailor tradition, the Sock Burning began in Annapolis, MD in the 1970s. The act of burning your winter socks heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring and a new sailing season! Cast off your winter socks and shoes; let your toes be free to enjoy the warmth of a sunny day at sea. 

Sail Nauticus has embraced the Sock Burning tradition since 2015, burning many a pair of socks for fun, and donating hundreds of pairs of new socks to local homeless shelters and charities. It signals the beginning of our official sailing season, and celebrates the activity of our membership program. 

This year, be sure to join us and participate in the beckoning of the warmer weather yourself. Our friend Bob Zentz will regale you with sea chanties while you enjoy an O'Connor's brew and food from the delicious New York Souvlaki. Our own Jacob Raymond will read the official "Ode to the Sock Burners", while folks young and old cast their socks upon the flames.

"Ode to the Sock Burners"

by Jefferson Holland, Poet Laureate of Eastport, 1995

Them Tidewater Folks got an odd tradition

When the sun swings to its equinoxical position,

They build a little fire down along the docks,

The doff their shoes and they burn their winter socks.

 

Yes, they burn their socks at the Equinox;

You might think that's peculiar, but I think it's not,

See, they're the same socks they put on last fall,

And they never took 'em off to wash 'em, not at all...

 

So they burn their socks at the equinox

In a little ol' fire burning nice and hot.

Some think incineration is the only solution,

'Cause washin' 'em contributes to Virginia's pollution.

 

Through the spring and the summer and into the fall,

They go around not wearin' any socks at all,

Just stinky bare feet stuck in old deck shoes,

Whether out on the water or sippin' a brew.

 

So if you sail into the harbor on the 24th of March,

And you smell a smell like Limburger sauteed with laundry starch,

You'll know you're downwind of the Nauticus docks

When they're burning their socks at the Equinox.

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