Mermaid statues are one of the most popular nautical home decorations, conjuring up images of mythical creatures, massive ships with carved-wood mermaid figureheads, and Disney princesses.
These, however, are really the only things people know about mermaids when they buy their nautical decorations. While it’s true that mermaids are in fact creatures of fantasy, are often used as figureheads on ships, and are some of the central characters in one of the most beloved movies of all time, there are so many more interesting things about mermaids besides all that. Here are just a few neat things you probably didn’t know.
The First Mermaid Legend Came From Syria.
Around 1,000 BCE, Syria had a legend about an ancient goddess named Atargatis. She was a fertility goddess whose cult eventually expanded into Greece and Rome. Atargatis is often depicted as a mermaid, and according to legend, she dove into a lake to become a fish, but only her bottom half was transformed.
They Were Bad News.
Although they’re depicted as often being beautiful, sailors weren’t too happy if they spotted what they thought were mermaids. The general rule was that they were bad news — omens of rough patches ahead. The presence of one meant that there was a terrible storm coming, or that a sailor’s luck was about to worsen.
Sightings Still Happen.
Although most people correctly believe that they’re just mythical creatures, people still claim to see merfolk. In 2009, someone claimed to have spotted one off the coast of Israel in the town of Kiryat Yam. Apparently, it did a few tricks for onlookers, and then disappeared.
Who would have thought that the legends would have started in Syria, or that they meant bad news, or that sightings still happened? If you know any other neat facts about these strange creatures, feel free to share in the comments.