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A Royal Screech-In from the woods

There is a rite of passage for those who visit Newfoundland & Labrador and want to be an honorary citizen – this ritual is known as the Screech-in.

I brought this custom to the Czech Republic as part of the Canadian Nation to Nation celebration in 2007. With 1500 people at the Face2Face Club, some dressed in Halloween Customs (myself a Canadian Mountie), enjoying pancakes with maple syrup, nanaimo bars, Ceasers and lots of trick or treat items. The visitors were given a presentation of all-things Canadian and then a game was played. The Canadian Lumberjack Challenge for Honorary Citizenship:

Round 1 – Three Individuals chug a bottle of Canadian Maple Syrup

Round 2 -Two Individuals chugging a giant Molson Canadian Beer

Round 3 – Had myself as Captain Jack and my trusty assistant Sparrow deliver a Screech-in wearing a poncho and yellow rubber boots. We determined the stage was owned temporarily by the Newfoundlanders, which permitted the Screech-in ceremony. As the person completed the tasks he was made an honorary Newfoundlander. In turn, because Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 – he would also be an honorary Canadian.

This was the first visit to Newfoundland and Labrador for my German friend, my Swiss friend had been before and was Screeched-in at Christians Bar on George Street. It was my pleasure to break out the South Wester and let the ceremony begin. My first from the woods…

Each Screech-in ceremony has a few variations depending on who is delivering it. I always ask “where ya from?”  “Do you want to be a Newfoundlander?”

We begin by talking like a Newfoundlander and throwing out a few lines. After talking like a Newfoundland. I ask ‘em to get down on their ‘knucks. It typically gets a puzzled look. After a few repeated requests they get down on their knees.

Then they get the stamp of the Newfoundland map drawn on their forehead. Since, I was in the cabin, I improvised with an ice candle (icicle). Then I usually take the salt water and baptize them; however, in this case I used pond water.

Next we sang a tune and danced a little jig. After talking, dancing and being christened, next the person must dress like a Newfoundlander.

Since we were in the forest, I did not have my trusty rubber suit, rubber boots or hat. Instead I handed over my South Wester’ hat and had him put on my wooden rackets (snowshoes w/sealskin). I was not handing over my sealskin boots, belt or wallet.

After looking like a Newfoundlander – one must eat like a Newfoundlander…First Newfie Steak which is bologna.

Normally, I’d have some Purity Rum n’ Butter Kiss candies (quintessentially,  from Newfoundland & Labrador). Instead this time, I included my Swiss friend and he handed over a Lindt chocolate ball.

Next is the Screech Rum! Before we drink though – we always get the person to say:

“Indeed it is me ol’ cock and long may your big jib draw”  – I point out my translation:

“indeed it is':  here we are

“my ol’ cock”: cock comes from Olde English meaning buddy or friend. So: my old friend

jib: sail of a ship

draw: gust of wind

If a good gust of wind hits a sail of a ship, one will have smooth sailing.

Translation: Here we are my old friend, smooth sailing.

Leave it too a Newfoundlander to made a long and fancy way of saying cheers!

Down the hatch. Next comes the Kissing of the Cod. Now since the moratorium in 1992, it is quite difficult to get a cod fish. I won’t get on a rant about that today. So instead we used a whitefish or smelt that was caught by us a few days prior.

The facial expressions are priceless…Pucker Up

After completing all the tasks, my friend has been granted the rite of passage by the Royal Order of Screechers – presented his certificate of being an honorary Newfoundlander.

If you come to rural Newfoundland & Labrador, check with the local pubs. If you are not successful, look me up as I would be happy to conduct the Screech-in ceremony, so you too can be an Honorary Newfoundlander.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Jumping Bean Blueberry Tea

I look for products that are Made Right Here, in Newfoundland & Labrador. Sometimes, I am able to find them when I catch NTV‘s Danielle Butt on her weekly segment, Made Right Here. However, on this occasion I was at visiting Gros Morne Cabins and Endicott’s Convenience in Rocky Harbour. This business has a wide-retail selection of food items, convenience goods, camping supplies, crafts, tour options, information and some locally made products. I found Jumping Bean’s Blueberry Tea.

I enjoy the local berry teas, especially the ones I have sampled from the Dark Tickle Company, St. Lunaire-Griquet (one of our many Northern Pen Gems). You may purchase their product online by visiting www.darktickle.com.

This particular tea caught my attention as it was loose tea. Only a few weeks prior my grandmother told me how the tea they would get came in wooden boxes. It was loose tea leaves packed in a foil to protect it from getting damp. I’ve had loose tea before when I was in Egypt, but never prepared a pot myself.

I got a chair, my arms extended to the top shelf of the cupboard to carefully pull out a tea-pot that my mother received as a wedding present more than 30 years ago. She has an exceptional memory and told me the people who gave her and dad the present. It is remarkable! She remembers birthdays, telephone numbers and other every life events. If an elephant never forgets, my mother is like an elephant. However, that may be the only similarity as she has quite the petit figure.

I normally would have asked my mother how to make this stuff; however, she is not a tea drinker. I am not sure if she has ever had a cup in her life. My father, on the other hand would always have a cup of Tetley with his morning breakfast meal. Since this was my first preparation, I looked at the directions, which read:

Directions: Place the desired amount of tea leaves in the tea sac and twist the top to close. Steep for 4-5 minutes in freshly boiled water and enjoy!

Somehow, I feel the directions should be written with more structure to appease the novice tea drinker. I really had no idea how much of the stuff I should be throwing in  and what amount of water to use. Some recommendation would be nice, in combination with…. or as your tastes desires.

In the end, I must have done something right as my cup of tea turned out to be a hit. It had natural berry flavours that were silky smooth and relaxing. I look forward to another cup of tea with my raisin cake in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about Jumping Bean, you can visit them on the web at www.jumpingbean.ca. They also make a variety of coffees, which include East Coast Roast and my personal favourite, Newfoundland Screech!

If you have the chance, pour yourself up a cup of loose blueberry tea from Jumping Bean.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

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