Skål! It’s Time for Kräftskiva!

Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party, is one of Sweden’s most unique and fabulous traditions!

Crayfish parties are mostly held during the month of August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to late summer. For more information on the history of Crayfish parties, check out our previous blog-post on the subject.  Today, the kräftpremiär  – crayfish premier- date in early August has no legal significance.  Also, the crayfish parties nowadays often continue into late September.

Fresh Crayfish with Dill! Photo: Cecilia Larsson

The party traditionally takes place outdoors, although let’s face it – due to unpredictable Swedish summer weather the party is often driven indoors. Either way, the dining table is prepared for a true feast. Covered in piles of beautiful fresh crayfish, crisp bread, Västerbotten cheese and pies – and of course; snaps! The  table and surroundings are decorated with colorful lanterns, tablecloths, napkins and of course the right utensils for digging into crayfish.  The guests themselves are dressed up in comical hats and bibs so that they don’t get too messy from the tasty crayfish juice.

Crayfish Party. Photo: Jonas Ingman.

The crayfish is traditionally prepared by being boiled in salt water and seasoned with fresh dill – preferably “crown dill” harvested after the plant has flowered –  then served cold.

Crayfish in Preparation. Photo: Lisa Nestorson

If you want to impress Swedes at the party, or simply blend in, there are certain things to be taken into consideration. Your performance will depend on the stickiness of your fingers and the quantity of shells stacking up – or lined up – on your plate.

And, of course, by the volume of which you manage to sing to the tunes of the theme song – 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

If you get the chance, you should celebrate the crayfish season at Väderöarnas Värdhus guesthouse – set on West Sweden’s breathtaking Weather Islands. There you can enjoy exclusive access to a traditional crayfish party and tuck into newly caught crayfish, as well as witnessing the catching and cooking of the shellfish in large cooking pots on the pier.

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