The Newfoundland alcoholic beverage known as “Screech” (a rum-like product from the West Indies) is used in an informal and light-hearted ceremony known as the “Screech-In”.
The “Screech-In” is performed on non-Newfoundlanders (known as a “Come from Aways” or “Mainlanders”) involving a shot of Screech, reciting a short NL recitation and kissing a cod. It is often performed in homes, in public places (like taverns) or aboard tourist boat excursions as they sail through “The Narrows” into St. John’s harbour.
Every Newfoundlander knows what a “Screech In” Ceremony is all about. It is the only way that those not lucky enough to be born a Newfoundlander can become as close as possible to being a Newfoundlander, without having to die and be reincarnated as a Newfoundlander.
Those who survive the ceremony will be forever known as HONOURARY NEWFOUNDLANDERS.
The Ceremony host (the natural-born Newfoundlander), will have the victim stand in front of a group of witnesses while wearing a yellow waterproof sailing hat – the Sou’Wester.
The host will then talk a bit about NL and give a little bit of the history of the Screech-In ceremony and what it means to become an “Honourary Newfoundlander”.
The host will next introduce the “Newfoundland Steak” by telling those present why bologna came to be known as “Steak”. A chunk of “steak” is presented to the victim and he or she is expected to eat it.
The host will then hold up the fish to the victim so that the victim can kiss the fish on the lips. The host and witnesses have final say on whether the kiss is sufficient to continue. In rare cases, two or more kisses have to be administered.
Next, the host will gingerly pour a full shot of Screech. This is handed to the victim and he or she has to repeat the following, before drinking, and while holding the glass high:
“Long may your big jib draw!”
This means “let’s hope the big sail at the bow of your ship will blow freely” which in turn is a good wish for the future.
After this, the victim is presented with the “Screech In” Certificate as proof of their adventure and they are now welcomed into the Royal Order of Screechers.
Requirements for the ceremony:
- Usually the “Screech In” ceremony is performed by a natural-born Newfoundlander.
2. A real fish (traditionally a cod, but, since these are hard to find, any whole fish will do)
3. A thick slice of bologna (Newfoundland Steak)
4. A Sou’Wester (rain gear option)
Newfoundland Screech is powerful rum with a rich tradition. While it isn’t quite as harsh as its name suggests (or as the drink was in the olden days), it is not very smooth either. Because it has a strong flavour, it can be enjoyed alone or mixed with other ingredients. In particular, Screech blends well with:
- club soda
- coke cola
- orange juice