swedish crayfish party

The Crayfish Party – Swedish Traditions

There are few celebrations that are as typically Swedish as a crayfish party. Every August these parties pop everywhere: families arrange them, your workplace might invite you to one, they are also popular among friends. A word of warning: a lot of drinking is usually the norm. And you might be expected to sing!

Throwing a Crayfish Party: Why?

In Swedish, this tradition is called kräftskiva. People usually arrange these parties in August because traditionally crayfish harvesting was legally limited to the end of the summer. These days the law has changed and the crayfish are often imported from China, Turkey, or Spain.

The party itself consists of three equally important ingredients: eating (mainly crayfish), drinking (mainly akvavit), and singing (drinking songs). Basically, it’s a good reason for people to get together and have some fun while it’s still summer.

How To Throw The Perfect Crayfish Party

First of all, you need to find a few friends that you would like to spend the evening with. Even people you don’t already know could become friends during the course of the evening. Once you know the number of guests it is all about preparations.

You need:

  • A lot of crayfishes boiled with dill
  • One bottle of Aquavit (Other non-alcoholic options would of course work as well)
  • Printed copies of some classic and funny drinking songs
  • Some silly hats
  • Additional food after own taste

In the end, a crayfish party is all about relaxing and enjoying a good time with your friends. So do not plan too much, most will come naturally during the evening.

The Vocab You Must Know Before Attending

  • Kräftskiva = crayfish party
  • Akvavit =  flavored spirit that is traditional in Northern Europe.
  • Snapsvisa = traditional drinking song, for example “Helan går

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Here’s the first
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la la la”
Here’s the first
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la”
He who doesn’t drink the first
Shall never, ever quench his thirst
Here’s the first
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la”

And What If You Just Hate Seafood?

Fear not, you do not have to eat crayfish in order to enjoy the party. Usually, there are a lot of other delicacies on the table as well. Pies are very popular. For instance, this year we served a pie with chanterelles, spinach, and a typical Swedish cheese called Västerbottenost. There are usually salads, cheeses, biscuits/cookies etc etc etc. In other words, you will not leave a crayfish party with an empty stomach.

A Piece Of Advice

If you happen to be in Sweden in the period from the end of August to the end of September, make sure to find a couple of Swedes who can show and teach you about the tradition that we Swedes are “quite proud” of. You will certainly not regret it!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. HayleyC

    I love crayfish and Sweden, so this is definitely one for the future ?

  2. Sherry Felix

    Ikea in NYC has crayfish for kräftskiva so we bought some. My African Grey came over and demanded some to eat too. That’s how I found out he likes eating crustaceans.

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