• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
A Swedish crayfish party. Photo: Caroline Romane/Image Bank Sweden

What's a Swedish crayfish party?

The Local · 18 Aug 2015, 16:19

Published: 07 Aug 2014 16:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Aug 2015 16:19 GMT+02:00

It is an old tradition that has become an excuse to party, drink, and consume unhealthy amounts of crustaceans. But for those who have never been to a crayfish party, it can be a bit confusing as to what exactly is being celebrated.

Jonas Engman, an ethnologist at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, says that crayfish have been on Swedes' plates for a very long time indeed.

"People have been eating crayfish since the sixteenth century, but it wasn't until the nineteenth century when the parties actually started," he explains.

"It was a way to say farewell to summer and welcome to autumn. And August was also the month the crayfish were ready to be fished."


Photo: Christine Olsson/TT 

The consumption of the crayfish grew significantly in the end of the nineteenth century to a point where they were overfished, meaning Sweden needed to draw in the reins instead of the nets. A law came in force that only allowed consumption from August 7th - the kräftpremiären ("The Crayfish Premiere") - through to November 7th.

"But the law was abolished in 1994," Engman explains. "Nowadays the party is usually celebrated throughout August."


Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Here, Engman shares the five key ingredients for a successful 'kräftskiva' (pronounced kreft-HWEE-va).

1. Crayfish

Without a doubt, the most important ingredient. And make sure they're well prepared. Other Swedish foods that go along with the festivities are Västerbotten cheese and knäckebröd (crispbread).

2. Snapsvisor

Some would argue that the snapsvisor (traditional drinking songs) are more important than the alcohol itself. These songs are supposed to be sung when taking shots. Engman said that there are many varieties and tunes, and that it's often the students who add new songs to the mix.

One popular snapsvisa is called Helan Går - literally "the whole thing goes". Here are the lyrics in Swedish:

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
 
If that sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, never fear, someone has created an English version too so you can sing along. Well, sort of. 
 
Hell and gore 
Chung Hop father Allan Ley 
Hell and gore Chung Hop father Allan Ley 
Oh handsome in the hell and tar 
and hell are in a half and four 
Hell and goooooore ...
Chung Hop father Allan Ley

3. Decorations

The trademark décor found at crayfish parties are round moon faces hanging from the ceiling and walls. These moon faces most likely mark the fact that summer is getting darker. 

4. Party hats

Story continues below…

These are optional but tend to be included, usually with a picture of a crayfish on. Why? Who knows why. Just put your hat on and get on with it. 

5. People

What is party without the people? Crayfish parties in Sweden are very similar to Christmas parties in that the whole family tends to get together to celebrate. So make sure you've got plenty of room if you're hosting. 

With that in mind, take one more look at the lyrics above, pour out some aquavit... and say skål! 


For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police shoot knife man in central Stockholm
Police technicians spent the rest of Saturday night combing the square for clues. Photo: TT

A knife-wielding man was shot by police officers in Stockholm’s Sergel Square on Saturday night after he attacked officers.

 Ibrahimovic 'is not going to Manchester United' - agent
Ibrahimovic is pondering his next move. Photo: TT

According to Mino Raiola, the agent of Swedish superstar footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his client will not be heading to Old Trafford to link up with Jose Mourinho, Manchester United's new manager.

More flight delays hit Swedish airport
For some flights, the problems have led to up to two hours of delays. Photo: TT

Travellers at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport were beset again with delays on Saturday afternoon after technical problems with flightplan management software.

Video
The top reactions to Swedish high heels handyman video
Andersson was in agony after a day of laying floors in high heels. Photo: Emil Andersson

What did The Local's readers think about this viral clip challenging sexist beauty ideals?

Transport authorities call for probe into tech glitch
SAS aircraft grounded at Arlanda airport last week. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

But officials say it was not sabotage that caused last week's network failure, which knocked out large parts of Swedish air traffic.

Why northern Swedes get the hots for sex toys
File photo of handcuffs. Photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/TT

Where in Sweden do people buy the most sex toys? Kiruna in the far north, apparently.

Royal baptism day for Sweden's Prince Oscar
Prince Oscar with Archbishop Antje Jackelén. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

UPDATED: Royalty, dignitaries and other esteemed figures took to Stockholm's Royal Chapel for the ceremony.

Giant replica of Swedish 18th century ship up for sale
The Götheborg setting sail from Stockholm in 2008. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT

A replica of a doomed Swedish merchant vessel that sank in 1745 within sight of its home port of Gothenburg has been put up for sale.

Border checks
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
The Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

Dozens of attempts have been made, but this is the first successful crossing since Sweden introduced ID and border checks.

Brexit
Poll: Swedes are worried about Brexit consequences
The possibility of Brexit has Swedes worried about the EU's future. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

Swedes are worried about what may happen both at home and abroad if Britain votes to leave the EU in June.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
The best, cutest and funniest snaps from Prince Oscar's christening
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Travel
Is this town the best place in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Blog updates

27 May

Editor’s blog, May 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, Would you spend a day doing manual labour in high heels? That’s what Swedish…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
Politics
Why Sweden's Greens are in free fall
National
Can these cartoon Swedes help foreigners blend in?
3,351
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se