International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, U.S., who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello,” but with “Ahoy, matey!” The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. It has become a holiday for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
According to Summers, the day is the only holiday to come into being as a result of a sports injury. He has stated that during a racquetball game between Summers and Baur, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of “Aaarrr!”, and the idea was born. That game took place on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for the observance of D-Day, they chose Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday, as it would be easy for him to remember.
At first an inside joke between two friends, the holiday gained exposure when John Baur and Mark Summers sent a letter about their invented holiday to the American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002. Barry liked the idea and promoted the day. Growing media coverage of the holiday after Barry’s column has ensured that this event is now celebrated internationally, and Baur and Summers now sell books and T-shirts on their website related to the theme. Part of the success for the international spread of the holiday has been attributed to non-restriction of the idea or trademarking, in effect opening the holiday for creativity and “viral” growth.
Baur and Summers found new fame in the 2006 season premiere episode of ABC’s Wife Swap, first aired September 18, 2006. They starred in the role of “a family of pirates” along with Baur’s wife, Tori. Baur also appeared on the June 26, 2008 episode of Jeopardy!, where he was introduced as a “writer and pirate from Albany, Oregon.”
The association of pirates with peg legs, parrots, and treasure maps, popularized in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island (1883), has had a significant influence on parody pirate culture. Talk Like a Pirate Day has been referenced in two songs from filk singer Tom Smith—”Talk Like a Pirate Day” and “What? It’s Can(n)on.” The latter references the fact that J. K. Rowling set Hermione Granger’s birthday on the same day as “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” and jokes about the Hogwarts student trading in her wizarding education for a piracy career.