A Swedish crayfish party

Crayfish, alcohol and the Sun of horror.

It’s August again and in Sweden that means crayfish season, which obviously warrants a celebration. So, let me introduce you to the wonderful and slightly bizarre Swedish tradition of crayfish parties.

A crayfish party is called kräftskiva in Swedish and the Swedes really go cray cray for it (sorry, not sorry!). The main idea is simple: to eat as much crayfish as possible and get drunk in the process. Naturally, you also need ridiculous decorations, novelty hats and silly drinking songs, which are called snapsvisa.

Every Swedish supermarket sells traditional crayfish party decorations during the summer, which include, but are not limited to party hats, bibs, napkins, plates, garlands and tablecloths, all with crayfish imagery. It may not be the most zero waste party ever, but at least some things could be reused I guess. Oh, and also there’s an incredibly creepy lantern, which is supposed to depict the Man in the Moon, but looked more like the Sun of Horror to me. You’ll see what I mean in the gallery below. 🙂

The tradition began because crayfish hunting in Sweden used to be legally limited to late summer for most of the 20th century. At first only the rich hosted crayfish parties, but soon enough the middle class started doing it too and they added the party hats to make fun of the rich. Eventually crayfish parties spread through the other Nordic countries and there’s a similar thing in the Baltic countries too. These days the party season can extend into September as well and the parties are usually held outdoors, although the one my Swedish friends threw for me in Luleå was indoors.

The crayfish party extravaganza

The crayfish are traditionally boiled with water, seasoned with dill and served with bread, mushroom or Västerbotten cheese pies and dips. They are eaten cold, with your fingers and in the messiest way possible, accompanied by aquavit, the Swedish rocket fuel schnapps. We also had other alcohol and my friends did a proper job singing all the drinking songs, so I had the whole crayfish party experience. As you could see, the photos get progressively worse and blurrier, which is at it should be.

We didn’t go crayfish hunting though, because we were pretty late in the season, so we had to defrost our supermarket catch in the bathtub. Let me tell you, several kilos of crayfish swimming in the bathtub are beyond creepy! A reasonable estimation for a crayfish party is about 0.5 kg per person, so we had a lot. All in all, the whole thing was pretty epic, so I wish this was a thing back home in Slovenia. Do you have parties like this in your country?

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9 thoughts on “A Swedish crayfish party

  1. In the late summer they do something like this in the Southern states. Only they call them crawdads. I don’t know much about it other than that. They are a big deal with people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

  2. Love the concept. And you are right, that moon is creepy. He needs to be redesigned. The food reminds me of the low country boil dinners we would have in the summer when we lived in Florida. It combines crab legs, sausage, shrimp, potatoes, and corn cooked in one big pan with Old Bay Seafood Seasoning. Messy and oh so yummy.

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