Kiss the cod at O'Maille's Pub
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am
Newfoundland pub musician Stan Gallant intends to pop by O’Maille’s Irish Pub this weekend with a very unusual island custom.
O’Maille’s is hosting a Newfie Weekend this Friday and Saturday and as part of the entertainment, the laid-back, fun-loving Gallant is presenting a screech-in.
For land-locked Albertans fed on a diet of beef, a screech-in is a striking ceremony that inducts participants as honorary Newfoundlanders.
“You kiss a fish, take a shot of rum and repeat ‘Long may your big jib draw.’ It means may your sails draw the wind and may it bring you along prosperously,” says Gallant.
“Anyone who wants to be an honorary Newfoundlander is welcome to give it a shot. It’s been wildly successful in other places.”
This long-rooted tradition is performed only on visitors to “The Rock” or willing non-Newfoundlanders. It was named after screech, a type of rum sold in the province that contains 40 per cent alcohol.
“It’s pretty nasty stuff.”
Some screech-ins add an extra dash of spectacle by requiring candidates to eat a piece of Newfie steak (baloney) or stand in a bucket of salt water.
Gallant’s screech-in will require the players to wear a Sou’wester raincoat and hat during the formalities. A Sou’wester is traditional yellow rain gear worn by Newfoundland fishermen to protect them from rain-bearing southwesterly winds.
Cod is pretty scarce in these parts, but Gallant plans to improvise.
“The ceremony is supposed to be an authentic cod fish. I don’t know how easy it is to find a codfish. So I’m going to try to find the slimiest, ugliest fish I can find,” laughs Gallant.
Screechers often react to kissing the cod in various ways.
“Some people are grossed out, but liquid courage gets them going. Others get very romantic and passionate.”
Those brave enough to observe the ritual will receive an honorary Newfoundlander certificate.
Gallant moved to Alberta six years shortly after most members of his family had already migrated. And the province has embraced his populist style.
Last year he logged 200 gigs. That translates to about three shows a week, a number most local musicians scramble to acquire.
Back on home turf, Gallant grew up with his grandmother and was always surrounded by music.
“It was hard not to be involved.”
Following his passion for music, Gallant studied jazz at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s highest ranked universities.
A versatile performer, the acoustic guitarist is well versed playing The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Jon Bon Jovi, John Fogerty, John Cougar, and Barenaked Ladies to mention a few.
But this weekend, he’ll be strumming and humming good ole Newfie East Coast pub tunes.
Newfie Weekend is January 17 and 18. Entertainment starts at 9 p.m. East Coast treats served. No cover.