At around noon each day “Up Spirits” was the Boatswain’s call, signaling to the ship's company that it was time for the daily dose of morale-building and spirit boosting. Teambuilding.
This has happened every day for over 300 years! And it was always a double issue before battle and after victory! (talk about incentives!)
There was a toast in place for every day of the week:
- Monday was for Our ships at sea.
- Tuesday was for Our men, but changed to Our sailors in 2013, to also include the many women now serving in the navy.
- Wednesdays were for Ourselves. “As no one else is likely to concern themselves with our morale.”
- Thursday was for A bloody war or a sickly reason. Because if you’re after someone’s position, you’re much more likely to get promoted if something like a war injury or illness happens to them
- Friday's toast is for A willing foe and sea room. Because not many navies were ready to take on the British.
- Saturday is To sweethearts and wives! “May they never meet,” echoed from the crew. This one, too, was changed to To our families! in June 2013.
- And Sunday is to Absent Friends.
A Great Rum Debate in the House of Commons brought an end to this great imbiber's tradition: “Men need to have a steady hand and sharp eye to keep everyone safe.”
The British Royal Navy served its Final daily Rum ration on July 31, 1970, now known as Black Tot Day.
But the old navy custom will be forever in our hearts. And Rum in our glasses.