I've been meaning to share this for a while, but after returning from my first visit to Newfoundland there was less than a month to our wedding and I became a single-minded, well-oiled, bridal machine. Now that we have tied the knot (the Cavanaght!), I'd like to share with you one of the last and most interesting experiences of my first visit back in February.
There is a great amount of Newfoundland history still present in and celebrated by the locals today. It is an honor and a pleasure that James and I were able to consecrate our move to St. John's by partaking in a localizing experience. That is, we are able to call ourselves honorary "Newfoundlanders" after going through an educational and symbolic ceremony.
The entire event is viewable by the YouTube link at the bottom of this post, but I'll summarize in a few steps:
James and I gathered with about twenty other visitors, presumably college kids from the local university, excited to accept the title of Newfoundlander. We were initiated by a seasoned fisherman by the name of Skipper Lukey. He gave us a brief history of Newfoundland as well as a language lesson before we started the induction.
First we consumed a delicacy described as Newfoundland steak. The story being that a child growing up with this bologna on his sandwich was a rich kid, while a poor child had lobster on his sandwich. Seeing as lobster was abundant and bologna had to be purchased. As quoted by Skipper Lukey a kid with lobster on his sandwich was "so poor that if he didn't wake up Christmas morning with a hard on, he'd have nothing to play with." Sorry mom, had to share.
Second, we KISSED a cod. Here's why: In 1497 Giovanni Caboto, an Italian explorer, come to be known as John Cabot, traveled to Newfoundland. It was here, in Bonavista, that Cabot dropped a bucket into the water and pulled it back up overflowing with cod. People traveled from around the world to capture the abundant fish and it was often used for trading. In particular, cod were traded for rum (Screech) with Jamaica. In acknowledgement of giving their fish away, the Newfoundlanders would kiss the cod goodbye. And so, we puckered up and kissed the salty, frozen cod and were another step closer to our certificate.
Lastly, we washed down our briny embrace with a shot of Screech. A potent rum that derived its name from the sound one makes after shooting it. Together we toasted with our fellow pledge class and recited an important Newfoundland phrase before we were officially ordained.
In response to the question, "Is ye a screecher?" we learned to reply "Deed I is, me old cock, and long may your big jib draw?" Meaning, yes my friend, I am a Newfoundlander. May there always be wind in your sails.
Some proud points of being a Newfoundlander:
- Newfoundland was the first province (then country) to respond to the Titanic distress signal
- Newfoundland was the first place to discovery evidence of the theory of the continental drift
- The first to host a transatlantic flight
- The first to have wireless communication in the world
- Newfoundland is the oldest rock in the world and St. John's the oldest city in North America
- Water Street (the street we live on) is the oldest street in North America
- The Royal St. John's Regatta is the oldest continuous sporting event in North America