Top 10 drinking myths, legends and ancient rituals

Getting ‘Screeched-in’ – Newfoundland, Canada

Those wishing to settle in the northern territory of Newfoundland are required to take part in an initiation ceremony in which they are “screeched in”, a bizarre tradition that allows them to become “mainlanders” in the eyes of natives.

The ceremony, most commonly held in pubs, requires non-locals wishing to make their say permanent to drink a shot of the region’s local spirit, a rum called Newfoundland Screech, recite a verse and then kiss a fish (a cod) on the lips.

Screech is a term applied to any cheap, high alcoholic spirit, much like moonshine, with Newfoundland Screech a brand of rum blended and bottled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, after being imported from Jamaica.

Screech-ins vary from pub to pub and community to community, though it often begins with the leader of the ceremony asking those present if they’d like to become a Newfoundlander.

While holding a shot of Screech, participants are asked “Are ye a screecher?” and are taught the proper response: “‘Deed 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”.

Successful participants will be presented with a certificate to prove that they have been ‘screeched in’, along with the fish to take away as a memento of the day.

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