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Swedish crayfish party

It’s early August, the evenings are still warm – it must be time for the annual crayfish party! We’ve got everything you need to set the table for this Swedish tradition – a long night of bibs, silly paper hats, lanterns, schnapps, singing, laughing, friends, family, and piles of messy, boiled crayfish.

Woman serving crayfish in a white bowl for friends sitting around a table propped with sparkling drinks and crayfish-themed napkins.

The tradition originated in Sweden, where a crayfish party is called a kräftskiva.

  • Kräftskivor, crayfish parties, are common in late August in Sweden when summer evenings are still warm. If the weather is good, tables are set up outdoors. At the centre of the table are the crayfish, which are boiled in brine and crown dill and served cold. People eat them with their fingers. Cheese pies made of cheese from Västerbotten, and hard bread with cheese are eaten on the side. Last but not least, the crayfish is enjoyed with cold beer and schnapps, preferably spiced.

    Paper lanterns that look like smiling moons glow in the darkness. Guests wear paper hats and bibs decorated with images of crayfish. The party includes laughing, singing and toasting with “skål!”. Ice-cold schnapps helps wash the food down and add to the good spirits.

    At one time, the lakes of central Sweden were home to lots and lots of crayfish, which were exported to high-class restaurants around Europe. However, by the 1800s overfishing for exports had dramatically reduced the crayfish population. The government imposed a law limiting fishing to only two months in the early autumn. Crayfish became a rarity and due to this, each crayfish season was marked by a celebration.