As all good “Newfies” know, you are not a “real” Newfoundlander until you have been “Screeched in”. This is a ceremony performed by Newfoundlanders on “Mainlanders” or “come-from-away” folks. Often taking place in local pubs, ours was performed by the entire family in Joe’s (Jeff’s nephew) basement. We had to don bucket rain hats, waders and answer the question, “Are ye a screecher?” or “Is you a Newfoundlander?,” to which the only proper response is: “Indeed I is, me ol’ cock! And long may yer big jib draw!” Translated, it means “Yes, I am, my old friend, and may your sails always catch wind.” We had to try “Newfie steak” (canned Vienna sausage), “seal eyes” (grapes pealed and “marinated” in juice), and hard tack.
This wasn’t the worst part – which was the required kissing of a cod fish! We sang, jigged and, of course, gulped a warming shot of Screech – powerful (40% alcohol) rum! Following our ceremony, we were presented with official “Screeched in” certificates.