A version of this post was first published on December 1, 2009.
When you consider how many traditions and superstitions mariners have about almost everything, it's surprising how few Christmas traditions there are at sea. At least one in seven people on earth are Christians, and twice that many will celebrate Christmas in one form or other. Add to that those who recognize the Jewish Hanukkah, the African Kwanzaa, and the Pagan Yule, and you have a good share of the world's people, yet holiday traditions at sea are mainly just those brought from land.
It is no easy task locating reliefs during the holidays, because no one wants to miss the time with the family. Sailors scheduled to go back to work may avoid answering the phone, or perhaps they'll travel somewhere they can't be reached until after the New Year. Those currently onboard, who are supposed to have the holidays off, call and harass the office to find a relief so they can make it back in time for the festivities.