International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day is observed annually on the first Sunday in October, on October 8 this year. This festival’s main aim is to bless the fishing fleet right before the fishing season begins. People pray for a fruitful season and the safe return of everyone on the fleet. Some people in the fishing community even ask local clergy to bless the rock lobster pots they created, in private ceremonies. Versions of this celebration are held globally on different dates, although the purpose essentially stays the same.
History of International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day
This event has been around since ancient times and was first recorded in the places around the Mediterranean fishing communities, according to multiple sources.
One story mentions a ship of Sicilian crusaders who brought a beautiful statue on board. When beset by a terrible storm, their ship landed safely at an Italian fishing village called Molfetta, in the southeast-Italian region of Puglia. They believed the statue was the reason for their survival, and they built a sanctuary for it as a tribute. They celebrated this event, asking for continuous protection when they sailed, and the International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day was born. This event — called ‘Feste della Madonna dei Martiri’ (Martyrs) — spread around Italy, and later, the world.
Before Christianity, local priests or holy men would give these blessings. Over time, this event became associated with the Catholic Church. Following Catholic tradition, some communities hold the event on Mother’s Day in a tradition that originated from England. Held in honor of Our Lady of Fátima, who is the patron saint of Portugal and mothers in their parish, this celebration sees people decorate her statue with ferns and fresh red and white flowers — red for living mothers and white for the deceased, with a decorated anchor placed at the foot of the statue.
The more traditional celebrations also include dropping an anchor into the water in memory of the deceased fishing folk from that community. As immigration increased, Catholic immigrants took this celebration with them to their new homes. As it spread, this event took on different rituals and traditions that varied according to the community. Today, the ceremony is held by people of any denomination, depending on the area where the blessing is given. These blessings also vary as per the community. Traditional blessings are given to the fishing community. Sailing communities and pleasure boaters get blessings for calm waters, sunshine on the bows, and the wind beneath their sails.
The celebrations around this day range from small-scale religious masses, contests, and feasts to large-scale parades.
International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day timeline
The observance has its roots in a Sicilian crusade ship that hailed a statue for its safe passage through a storm; the subsequent tribute and celebration to ask for blessings from this statue launches this event.
Augustinian friar Juan de Gorostiza conducts the first blessing in this period.
The Navy Memorial blesses the water in its fountains with the water from the Seven Seas and the Great Lakes.
The celebration of this event increases in the post World War II period, because of the affluence of Australian fishing communities.
International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day FAQs
What day is Blessing of the Fleet?
This day is primarily held on the first Sunday in October. Other countries — like Portugal — have held it on Mother’s Day and some even hold it on Easter Sunday.
Where is Blessing of the Fleet?
This day is celebrated globally and nationally too. Countries like Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and certain fishing communities across the U.S. celebrate this event.
What is the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony?
As per the ceremony, boats parade past the dock while local clergy, priests, or holy people pray for a safe and fruitful fishing season.
How to Observe International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day
Wander through local celebrations
Check if local fishing communities follow this tradition, and visit these celebrations when you can.
Watch a live broadcast
Some channels air live broadcasts of this event. Check out local and international channels if you can, or browse social media to see how this event is celebrated all over.
Have yourself a seafood fiesta
This day evokes memories of ships, water bodies, and the amazing sea creatures that live within them. Host a seafood-themed dinner party, visit a local aquarium, or catch a documentary about pirates on the deep sea.
5 Ways International Blessings Of The Fishing Fleet Day Is Celebrated
Portuguese immigrants introduced this during World War II, and this event is held on Mother's Day.
Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida
Celebrated in both these places, Jacksonville boasts grander events with more than 150 sailing vessels.
McClellanville, South Carolina
As the blessing is given, people toss a beautiful magnolia wreath, which is covered with red roses, in memory of McClellanville fishermen and women.
This is one of the premier events in this region's boating season; it draws up to 100 boats each year.
Portage des Sioux, Missouri
The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rivers — another name for the Virgin Mary — is the official site for celebrations; this statue is the fourth tallest statue of Mary in the world.
Why International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day is Important
Brings people together
Especially those in the fishing community! Everyone enjoys a day out where they can fish, eat, and celebrate with loved ones.
The celebrations are uplifting
Not only does it honor fishing communities globally, but the beauty and sincerity in the sentiment behind this day are also uplifting.
This is a wonderful combination of events
Religion, tradition, and local flavor combine to bring us a free and colorful celebration of fishing fleets, which changes as per the region and country you are in. How can we find fault with that?
International Blessings of The Fishing Fleet Day dates