Date: 27/07/2017

A Traditional Swedish Crayfish Party

Author: Elin
Location: Sweden

Once again we are reaching the season that always puts a big smile on most Swedes faces. I am talking about the Crayfish season. It feels a bit like a long and last goodbye of the summer as the skies turns purple and orange in the sunsets. The decoration makes you think you ended up somewhere in Chinatown with the red and orange colors overtaking the room. Fringe banners, flag buntings, paper lanterns of a smiling moon and of course the matching plates and table decoration sets the whole scene. Just gazing at the decorations will give you the feeling that no matter what, this night will be amazing.   

And the best part is that you can have as many crayfish parties as you wish, the season lasts from August to September! For Swedes crayfish is something you only eat once a year so this is the time to indulge and not to hold back. Traditionally Swedes gather close friends for this occasion. Someone may want to bring the crayfish while others brings the alioli, baguettes, crispbreads and salad. It is also common for someone to bake a pie and bring to the party, most likely it will be the delicious cheese pie “Västerbotten pie”. Västerbotten cheese is famous in Sweden and it is made in the municipality Skellefteå.  

In most cases there will also be a cake of some kind in the end of the night. Please don’t eat before if you ever have the chance to go to one of these parties. And we must not forget the mandatory “nubbe”, which means a shot of 40% vodka. Don’t forget to sing “Helan Går” before you have the ritual shot and yes of course you can youtube the song to get the idea of how you should sing it. Usually the songs gets worse each time someone starts the singing and proposes the toast, why is still a mystery.  

This is a big tradition we celebrate all over Sweden and we absolutely love to share our strange traditions with people from other cultures. When you sit down to eat the crayfish it usually get’s a bit messy so don’t forget the bib and napkins and.. Oh, I might have forgot to tell you that you have to wear a party hat, no exceptions.       

So if you want to celebrate this tradition here are a few tips on the way.

  1. You’ll need a party hat preferably matching in order for you to get into your best party mood. And decorations, if unsure of where to find such decorations when you don't live in Sweden yourself think of a Swedish furniture company and you will find the answer there. 

  2. Crayfish and lots of it! Best way to prepare this feast is to make a plan with your company so everybody knows who brings what to the party. It's a "knytkalas" meaning everybody brings something so no one ends up having to do everything. Very democratic, what else can you expect. There are two kinds of crayfish in the salty waters of Sweden’s West coast. Langoustines are roaming in the clear waters of the Baltic Sea and in other parts of Sweden you can expect the classic crayfish living under the surface of Sweden’s many freshwater lakes.

  3. Anytime during the evening while you most likely will still be indulging in the abundance of crayfish (this meal usually lasts quite awhile) there will be traditional Swedish drinking songs accompanied with Schnapps. Don’t be surprised if someone shouts out, Nubbe! That just means it’s time for another song and Schnapps.

If it falls on me to bake the cake for the party I will always make my absolute favorite cake, a traditional Swedish strawberry cake.

If you fancy trying out your cooking skills please find the recipe below.

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/swedish-midsummer-cake-recipe

One of my favorite places when it comes to seafood is the beautiful Swedish west coast. You can easily combine a city break in Gothenburg with the archipelago of West Sweden.

Now all there is left to say is enjoy the party and cheers in Swedish: Skål!

Image Credit: Visit Sweden

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