There’s a saying that goes, “If you remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.” Now, I won’t say I don’t remember my first night in Newfoundland, I do, but there are one or two things I’m uncertain about. Well, only one thing. And that’s becoming an Honorary Newfoundlander.
How does one go about that you say? Well, it involves a ritual ceremony called a “Screech In.” Those who survive this ceremony will forever be known as Honorary Newfoundlanders. It goes something like this:
1. The “Screech In” can only be performed by a natural-born Newfoundlander. No pretenders allowed.
2. A real fish (traditionally a cod, but since these are hard to come by, any whole fish will suffice.)
3. A Sou’Wester – heavy duty fisherman’s rain gear, complete with head gear as well.
4. A bottle of Screech – a rather strong, inexpensive, some think vile, rum.
And now the fun begins, especially for the locals who good-naturedly enjoy visitors performing for them. The ceremony host, remember a natural-born Newfoundlander, will have the victim, wearing the Sou’Wester, stand in front of group of “witnesses” The host will then hold up the fish so the future honoree can kiss the fish on the lips! All watching will have the final decision on whether or not the kiss is sufficient to continue the festivity. Some times, multiple kisses are required!
Moving along, the host will pour a shot of Screech for the victim to hold on high before imbibing but not before reciting the following: “Long may your big jib draw.” Then a certificate may be issued to inform all that this person is indeed an Honorary Newfoundlander.
I was informed on my trip I was an Honorary Newfoundlander. I didn’t have a certificate, but I do remember having a “screeching” headache. Hmmm. More on the first night next post when I learn about the ballet.