Baptism of the Line

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Baptism of the Line

A curious rite performed on persons crossing the equator for the first time. The sailors dressed themselves in quaint costumes. The "father of the line" arrived in a cask, accompanied by a courier, a devil, a hairdresser, and a miller. The unfortunate passenger had his hair curled, was liberally sprinkled with flour, and then had water showered upon him, if he was not dunked. The origin of this custom is not known, nor is it quite clear what part the devil played in it. The custom is reminiscent of the traditional initiatory rites of apprentices in trade guilds such as printing, and it may also be a precursor of initiations in college fraternities.

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Baptism of the Line

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