Newfoundland Screech

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A man kissing a cod during a screech-in ceremony.

Newfoundland Screech is a rum sold in Newfoundland with 40% alcohol by volume. The term screech is a colloquial term that has been used to describe almost any cheap, high alcohol spirit, including moonshine. The term is used in the brand name for this mid-priced rum to associate the brand with this tradition.

It is available in liquor stores both in and outside of Newfoundland and is blended and bottled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, after being imported from Jamaica.[1] Unlike its counterparts in other provinces, NLC has retained its bottling business. The spirit is widely available in Canada and is also distributed in New England.[citation needed]


Newfoundland Screech is used in a non-obligatory ceremony known as the "screech-in". The "screech-in" is an optional ceremony performed on non-Newfoundlanders (known to Newfoundlanders as a "come from away" or "mainlander") involving a shot of screech, a short recitation and the kissing of a cod. It is often performed either in homes or more commonly in town pubs, such as George Street, St. John's. Notable for their screech-in traditions would be Trapper John's[2] and Christian's Bar.[3] Screech-ins also take place aboard tourist boat excursions such as the Scademia, which adds to the ceremony a sail through The Narrows into St. John's harbour.[citation needed]

The general process of a screech-in varies from pub to pub and community to community, though it often begins with the leader of the ceremony introducing themselves and asking those present if they'd like to become a Newfoundlander. The proper response would be a hearty "Yes b'y!" Each participant is asked to introduce themselves and where they come from, often interrupted by commentary by the ceremony leader, jokingly poking fun at their accent or hometown. Each holding their shot of Screech, they are then asked "Are ye a screecher?" or "Is you a Newfoundlander?," and are taught the proper response: "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."[4]

A cod fish – or any other fish unsightly enough to suitably replace the cod – is then held up to lip-level of each participant, who then bestows the fish with a kiss. Frozen fish are used most commonly in the screech-ins which take place on George St., though occasionally a fresher specimen, if available, will be used. Some pubs will also award certificates to those who have become an honorary Newfie once the screech-in is complete.[5]

Some screech-in traditions vary in both the order of events as well as the requirements. Some ceremonies require that the screech-ee eat a piece of "Newfie steak" (a slice of baloney) or kiss a rubber puffin's rear end. Some are also asked to stand in a bucket of salt water throughout the ceremony or that they wear the Sou'wester during the recitation and the drinking of the shot. For group screech-ins, the shots and recitations are generally all done at once. In all cases, only a native Newfoundlander can officiate a "proper" screech-in.[6]

Kissing the cod[edit]

Kissing the cod is a tradition that began in and continues to occur in Newfoundland and Labrador.[7][8] The tradition involves a codfish as well as a type of rum known as Screech.[9][10] It is traditionally used to welcome newcomers to the island or give them the experience of being a Newfoundlander, some also consider foreigners who've been "Screeched In" to be unofficial Newfoundlanders. This can be also referred to as a "Screech-in". The ceremony may be performed at pubs such as Trapper John's and Christian's on George Street, St. John's,[11] or a travel guide or local family may perform the ceremony.

It is often the ceremony may differ by region or participants. A Screech-In can occur almost anywhere, but it won't be officially recognized. Some ways the ceremony may differ include the consumption of bologna referred to as Newfoundland Steak during ceremonies,[12] or consumption of other foods important to Newfoundland culture; Jam Jams, Cream Crackers, etc.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Newfoundland Screech Rum".
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Drinking, Eating & (May 15, 2015). "'Tis the rum, me son: Screech-in ceremonies bring waves of tourists, celebrities to St. John's pub | National Post".
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ "Tourists chase an authentic Newfoundland welcome through 'screech-in' ceremony". Global News.
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ "Kiss the cod and become an honorary Canadian in Newfoundland". International traveller magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  8. ^ "This Bar Ritual Lets Visitors Become Honorary Newfoundlanders". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  9. ^ Foley Mackinnon, Kim (May 26, 2016). "Kiss a cod and drink some rum: It's tradition". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  10. ^ "Screech-In Ceremony". Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  11. ^ "10. Kiss the Cod-Top 10 things you can only do in Canada". Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  12. ^ Byrne, Pat (1997), Tuleja, Tad (ed.), "Booze, Ritual, and the Invention of Tradition:: The Phenomenon of the Newfoundland Screech-In", Usable Pasts, Traditions and Group Expressions in North America, University Press of Colorado, pp. 232–248, doi:10.2307/j.ctt46nrkh.17, ISBN 978-0-87421-225-9, retrieved 2021-03-06

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