There are a lot of phrases that have been thrown around that have significant meaning. A big message can be packed into a small phrase. It’s amazing the kind of symbolism that comes from a couple of words but this just the way it is. It could be a family motto or a song but whatever it is, it is going to hold a great deal of meaning to the person that says it. To sing the phrase or say it is one thing to have this inked onto your body is something completely different. There aren’t a lot of other ways that show a stronger dedication to something than to have it tattooed. In this case we are going to be talking about a phase that has meaning to sailors of the past and present.
“Hold Fast” is a phrase that is used today but has roots that go back to the days when people sailed all over the world. Back when Sailor Jerry was tattooing nautical themed tattoos all over sailor’s bodies. This phrase was a popular phrase back then for reasons we will talk about and it is still popular today as American Traditional tattoos have made a strong resurgence over recent years. It’s a phrase that has a lot of hidden meaning and the people want to know what it means so that is what we will try to do.
In this post we will discuss the origins of the phrase “Hold Fast” and what it means for those that have used it in the past versus what it means today. We will talk about the hold fast tattoo meaning and what it means to those that wear it. We have also seen people get the hold fast tattoo inked in unique ways, so we will talk about a few different variations of this tattoo. By the end of this post we hope you feel a little more informed about this phrase and if you were thinking of getting it tattooed, we hope you feel more confident about doing it now.
The hold fast tattoo is one of the older sailor tattoos so to understand the significance of this tattoo you should understand a bit about sailor tattoos in general. These tattoos are a way to keep sailor superstitions and cultures alive. Sailors have always been known as a superstitious bunch and they believed that specific symbols helped protect from certain unfriendly situations. These symbols could attract good or bad luck depending on what it is. An example of this is the pig or hen. These images were both known to help keep a sailor from drowning. Because neither of these animals could swim, if God saw a shipwreck and saw these images, he would pick up those images and any sailor attached to them and put them on land. This is why you will see this image tattooed on many sailors. Another example is the nautical star which is said to help sailor find his way home.
So, as you can see, anything that can help bring some good luck to a sailor’s voyage was used in anyway possible. Tattooing was one way you would keep that luck for the entirety of your life.
Hold Fast Meaning
So now we can ask ourselves where the hold fast tattoo came from and what does it symbolize for those that wear it. These easy eight letters are perfect for not taking up a lot of space on your body, but you will also see it tattooed on the knuckles often as each word fits perfectly on the four fingers of each hand. Even though we have talked about the hold fast tattoo being linked to sailors, it was around before that as well. This was the motto of the Scotland Clan MacLeod. You can find it on their family crest paired with a bull’s head. You can still find these crests in their castles in Scotland.
That being said, the nautical version of this tattoo which we see more often, might seem like a symbol to stay tough or dig in where you’re at but it’s not what you think it is. It means to stay where you are and stop what you’re doing in nautical terms.
A hold fast tattoo is a symbol for those that work or did work as a deckhand. This symbol is similar to a hula girl representing time stationed in Hawaii or the ship with full sails meaning they’ve rounded Cape Horn.
The hold fast tattoo for a deckhand was used to be a good luck symbol and to make sure they had a good grip. In addition to being a general good luck charm for a deckhand, it also means to “hold on” in Danish. It is said to help you to not drop the line or to fall overboard.
Hold Fast Tattoo Placement
You will often see this tattoo inked across the front knuckles or paired with another nautical symbol. In many cases, people will have a rope used in the hold fast tattoo to represent the job of the deckhand. In most cases you will see them on the hands.
Hold Fast Sparrow Tattoo
If you see the hold fast tattoo with some sparrows in the pictures, it would be a symbol for a deckhand that has traveled at least 5,000 miles on the sea. These days it might not mean the same but for those that were sailors, that is what it meant.
Hold Fast Anchor Tattoo
Anchors have different meaning. They have been known to symbolize a sailor that has crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The anchor has also been known to symbolize the parents of the sailor. So, when you see these two paired, it could mean a couple of things but generally it involves stability.
The hold fast tattoo is a cool looking tattoo and you can make it mean whatever you want. After reading this, you at least know what it symbolized back in the days of the sailors. Either way it is a cool looking tattoo.