Island of Newfoundland Local Customs

  • Wood Pile
    Wood Pile
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  • Interesting Phrase from Newfoundland
    Interesting Phrase from Newfoundland
    by jamiesno
  • Local Seal Flipper Vendors in St. John's, NL
    Local Seal Flipper Vendors in St....
    by jamiesno

Best Rated Local Customs in Island of Newfoundland

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    Newfoundland Jokes!

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    An ad from Water Street, St. John's, NL

    Newfoundland is famous for it's joke book and the people are proud of the book in general and enjoy getting a laugh at each other. It's been making people laugh for a long time and reading the jokes are just fine.

    However if you use the word "Newfie" in a derogatory or rude manner it is not laughed at and frowned upon especially if used in the wrong context or by public figures.

    So be warned enjoy the jokes like the one below but don't be walking around quoting it or say, "hey you Newf" or stuff like that because you could end up in over the local wharf!

    Sample Joke: A Scotsman, an Englishman and a Newfie were sitting in a bar in Toronto. The view was fantastic, the beer excellent, the food exceptional.

    "Y'know" said the Scotsman, "I still prefer the pubs back home. In Glasgow there's a little place called McTavish's. The landlord goes out of his way for the locals so much that when you buy 4 drinks he will buy the 5th drink for you."

    "Well," said the Englishman, "At my local, the Red Lion, the barman will buy you your 3rd drink after you buy the first 2."

    "Ahhh, that's nothin'," said the Newfie. "Back home in Sin Jahn's, there's the Codfish Bar. The moment you set foot in the place they'll buy you a drink, then another, all the drinks you like. Then when you've had enough drinks they'll take you upstairs and see that you get laid. All on the house."

    The Englishman and Scotsman immediately pour scorn on the Newfie's claims but he swears every word is true.

    "Well," said the Englishman, "Did this actually happen to you?"

    "Not me myself, personally, no," said the Newfie. "But it did happen to me sister a few times."

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    Get Screeched In

    by jamiesno Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Newfoundland Screech Label...

    Throughout Newfoundland there is a tradition they call a Screech In that can make you an honourary Newfoundlander. Here more about that, LOL.

    The Origin of Screech

    Legend has it that Demerara Rum, from the West Indies, was very popular in Newfoundland. It was brought in, bottled, and sold in an unlabeled bottle.

    During World War II, the Americans set up bases in Newfoundland. One night, an American serviceman was out drinking with some locals. Eager to try the traditional drink of the province, he took a shot.

    When he was able to breathe again, the American let loose a loud noise that was later described as some sort of horrible ‘screech”. The name stuck!

    The “Screech In” Ceremony

    Every Newfoundlander knows what a “Screech In” Ceremony is all about. It is the only way that those not lucky enough to be born a Newfoundlander can become as close as possible to being a Newfoundlander, without having to die and be reincarnated as a Newfoundlander.

    Those who survive the ceremony will be forever known as HONORARY NEWFOUNDLANDERS.

    Requirements for the ceremony:

    1) The “Screech In” ceremony can only be performed by a natural-born Newfoundlander.
    2) A real fish (traditionally a cod, but since these are hard to find, any whole fish will do).
    3) A Sou’Wester.
    4) A bottle of Screech.

    The Ceremony:

    The ceremony host, will have the victim stand in front of a group of witnesses while wearing the Sou’Wester.

    The host will than hold up the fish to the victim so that the victim can kiss the fish (on the lips). {The host and witnesses have final say on whether the kiss is sufficient to continue. In rare case, two or more kisses have to be administered}

    Next, the host will gingerly pout a full shot of Screech. This is handed to the victim and he or she has to repeat the following, before drinking, and while holding the glass high:

    “Long may your big jib draw”

    After this, present the victim with the “Screech In” Certificate as proof of their adventure. Welcome them into the Royal Order of Screechers.

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    Local Accents

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    Interesting Phrase from Newfoundland

    Throughout Newfoundland and Labrador every little community has its own accent and different phrases that are unique to their communities.

    It is common and you will enjoy the linguistics for sure.

    An example of this is the sign posted on this local store.

    Before transportation systems were developed everyone was very isolated in there own little harbours with sparse contact with others throughout the island. People also came from different parts of europe originally added to the unique accents.

    This is also common amongst the aboriginal people for example the Inuit people of Nain
    speak a very different Inuktitut dialect than the Inuit people of Rigolet.

    So as your travel throughout the island don't expect to hear the same accents, they will be very fast in some places, very slow in others and very normal in others :-)

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    Newfoundland Words

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    Local busker on Water Street, St. John's, NL

    Up front advice! Don't be going around trying hard to use any of these words or you will look like an ass! Just enjoy and be aware when you hear them that they are local words.

    angishore - a weak, miserable person
    arn - any
    ballyrag - to abuse
    bannikin - a small tin cup
    bedlamer - a one year old seal
    chucklehead - a stupid person
    chinch - to stow tightly
    clout - to hit an opponent hard
    clobber - an untidy state of things
    come-from-away - a tourist
    doter - an old seal
    douse - to give a quick blow
    drung - a narrow, rocky lane
    duff - pudding of flour, fat pork and molasses
    dulse - a kind a seaweed
    dudeen - a pipe
    faddle - a bundle of firewood, fardel
    flipper - a seal's forepaw
    floaters - men who fished from the schooners
    using cod traps rather than jiggers.
    frape - a rope with blocks to moor a boat
    funk - smoke or vapor of evil odour
    gandy - a pancake
    gulvin - the stomach of a codfish
    gowdy - awkward
    heft - to weigh in the hand
    huffed - vexed
    jinker - one who brings bad luck
    lashins - plenty
    lolly - soft ice beginning to form in harbour
    longers - rails for a fence
    lops - small breaking seas
    mauzy - misty
    mush - porridge
    narn - none
    nish - tender, easily injured
    planchen - the floor
    prise - a lever
    prog - food
    puddock - stomach
    rawny - very thin, bony
    scrawb - to tear with the nails
    scut - a dirty, mean person
    scruff - the back of the neck
    sish - ice broken into particles by surf
    slob - ice newly frozen
    shule - to move away backwards
    smidge - a stain
    sloo - to get out of the way
    slieveen - a deceitful person
    squabby - soft as jelly
    squish - sound of waters exuding from boots
    spile - a peg for a hole in the cask
    swig - to drink from a bottle
    switchel - cold tea
    teeveen - a patch on a boat
    titivate - to adorn exceedingly fine
    tole - to entice with bait
    traipse - to walk around unnecessarily
    truck - payment for fish by merchandise
    tuckamore - a low clump of trees
    twig - to catch a meaning
    wattle - a small slim fir
    yarry - rising early, alert
    yaffle - an armful of dried fish
    yer - here
    yap - to retort angrily

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    Newfoundland Phrases

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    Stray cat at Fort Amherst, NL

    My advice is the same with phrases as it was with words, don't be trying to use them just enjoy listening to them or you will look like an ass!! I remember being in Peurto Vallarta, Mexico and a guy with a mother from Newfoundland was amazed that I was from that area and persisted for a couple of days to say, "How you doin' me ol' trout?"

    I still remember today how ridiculously stupid I thought he was and still have never heard anyone in my life use that phrase.

    So here are some examples you might hear but don't be trying to use them! :-)

    I'll be dere da rackley meaning: (I'll be there in a few minutes.)

    'ere meaning: (Here...note that some drop their h's and pick them up in front of vowels!)

    Owshegettinonb'ys meaning: (How is she getting on...or how is she doing?)

    Idn't dat fulish bye meaning: (Isn't that foolish...and of course we Newfies say bye at the end of many phrases, instead of the eh associated with Canadians!)

    Shockin' that is, shockin meaning: (This should not need too much explaining...it's shocking!)

    Ya gat da face only a mutter could luv meaning: (You got the face only a mother could love, in other words, ugly!)

    Mind your mouth now meaning: (Be careful what you are saying, usually used to tell someone their language is a little off colour.)

    Giv us a bitta dat luh meaning: (Give us some of that.)

    If I 'ad a face da likes o yers, me son, I'd walk back'rds meaning: (Someone would be really insulting your looks here...if they looked like you, they would walk backwards so nobody would see them. Again, note the me son...another typical saying!)

    Where you 'longs to? meaning: (Where are you from?)

    Oh me nerves, de got me drove! meaning: (My nerves are bad!)

    I'll be over now, d'once meaning: (I will be there soon.)

    You're as slow as cold molasses meaning: (That's pretty slow!)

    nar-fish meaning: (I have no fish or I didn't catch any!)

    So I think you get the idea :-)

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    A Fishing Culture!

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    A typical port scene in Newfoundland and Labrador

    Let me give you my very quick and unofficial version of history. As far back as documented the aboriginal people of Newfoundland and Labrador lived off the land and sea. Then europeans discovered the area and found you could virtually walk across the water because there was that much fish! This set off a fishing bonanza right up to the early 1990s went the Government of Canada finally imposed a moritorium on the most fished species the "Cod".

    It is a very sad history of mismanagement of a resource however today the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is worth more to the economy then ever before. You'll be hard pressed not to find fishing boats in any small rural community. While cod is only caught now in very restricted zones and sometimes for food only, the industry has diversified into species like shrimp and crab.

    However upon your visit you'll quickly hear of the local politics and passion that people still debate the problems of the fishery. Crab stocks are now following the way of the Cod and foreign vessels are still permitted to fish at will right at the 200 mile limit and industry is being forced to compete and consolidate bringing economic devestation to some communities.

    Basically the fishery is Newfoundland! Thousands of people today in rural regions still fish and thousands more work in the processing plants that remain.

    I recommend if you can to get out in boat on your visit for sure and try the different fish dishes :-)

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    Traditional Meals

    by jamiesno Written Jan 1, 2005

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    Traditional Sunday Dinner!

    In Newfoundland and Labrador many people are very traditional in what they eat and certain foods are eating on certain days. It's been this way forever I think.

    Some example include Pea Soup with Dumplings is eaten right across the island by many on Saturdays. On Sunday many people have what's called a "Sunday Dinner" or "Jiggs Dinner". A picture of this is provided with my tip.

    It's probably my favorite meal of vegetables, chicken, gravy and dressings.

    You'll see in the picture as well by the red wine a peice of red looking meat. That is the Department of Health's worst nightmare and called "salt beef". It is eaten a lot in Newfoundland giving the region one of the hightest percentages of heart failure. But it is very tasty and cooked a lot here.

    A lot f this stuff goes back to the fishing culture and salted foods stored well for example.

    Other dishes you could look out for that are very traditional include "fish and brews", "cod tongues", "cod cheeks", and "capelin".

    Those are some of the main ones so I trust you will enjoy the culinary side of Newfoundland and Labrador very much so. Another thing you will notice is the large plates of food. You will not get hungry here!!

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    The Seal Hunt

    by jamiesno Updated Jan 1, 2005

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    Local Seal Flipper Vendors in St. John's, NL

    The seal hunt is well documented around the world by animal activist however hunting seals is a very traditional activity that kept people alive in years past and today is very important to the rural economy. I see it no different than killing any other animal for food which is so very common in our society.

    The over protection of the seals has led to a very very high population off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and many argue it has had a drastic impact on the dwindling Atlantic Cod stocks. As one politician once said, "They don't eat Pizza!"

    The great bulk of seals taken annually in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador - known as 'The Front' - are Greenland seals, or harps. These are gregarious creatures which migrate on a regular pattern. The northwest Atlantic herd summers in Baffin Bay, and in the fall begin to travel south along the Labrador coast. Reaching the Strait of Belle Isle by late December, some move into the Gulf and others towards the Grand Banks. In February the seals find ice on which the females can give birth. The Gulf herd usually whelps off the Magdalen Islands. The Atlantic herd moves north to meet the ice drifting south along the coast of south Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland. Here the young are born in large patches. The pups weigh about 15 pounds at birth, and have a yellowish coat, that soon turns white. They rapidly put on weight, reaching 60 to 70 pounds in 16 to 18 days. At this stage they are considered to be in prime condition. The white coat is soon shed - during the moult they are known as 'raggedy jackets' - and the pups lose weight. When independent of their mothers they take to the water, and are known as 'beaters'.Year-old harps are called 'bedlamers'. Once the adult seals have themselves moulted, and then mated, the herd begins its journey back to the Arctic.

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    Wood Piles

    by jamiesno Written Jan 1, 2005

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    Wood Pile

    As your driving around the Island and in Labrador you'll see wood piles like the one in this picture.

    They didn't grow this way or get that way on their own. Many local people will cut wood for heat in the winter and store it in piles like the one seen until they come back and pick it up.

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    Fishing Flakes

    by jamiesno Written Jan 1, 2005

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    Fishing Flakes

    These are not as common any more but you will see these wood structures in many places and they are called "flakes".

    One time they were used everywhere to dry the cod fish. Today it is rarely used because there is no more cod fish but in many of the communities you will still see the old structures that are now drying out themselves.

    They are probably used more often today to dry out the small fish capelin. By themselves and without explanation they look like odd contraption but now you know :-)

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Island of Newfoundland Local Customs

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