Crayfish party

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Crayfish cooked with dill in the traditional manner.

A crayfish party is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in the Nordic countries. The tradition originated in Sweden, where a crayfish party is called a kräftskiva. The tradition has also spread to Finland via its Swedish-speaking population.[1] A similar tradition exists in the Baltic countries in particular in Lithuania and Latvia.

Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that began because the crayfish harvest in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to the late summer.[2] Nowadays, the kräftpremiär date in early August has no legal significance. Dining traditionally takes place outdoors, but in practice the party often takes refuge indoors due to the bad weather or aggressive mosquitoes. Customary party accessories are novelty paper hats, paper tablecloths, paper lanterns (often depicting the Man in the Moon), and bibs.[2] A rowdy atmosphere prevails amid noisy eating and traditional drinking songs (snapsvisa). Alcohol consumption is often high, especially when compared to the amount of food actually consumed. It is considered customary to suck the juice out of the crayfish before shelling it.[2]

Man in the Moon Decoration

Akvavit and other kinds of snaps are served, as well as beer.[3] The crayfish are boiled in salt water and seasoned with fresh dill – preferably "crown dill" harvested after the plant has flowered – then served cold and eaten with the fingers. Bread, mushroom pies, strong Västerbotten cheese, salads and other dishes are served buffet-style.[2]


For more than 40 years, the town of Herrera de Pisuerga (Province of Palencia) has celebrated the Festival Nacional del Cangrejo de río (Crayfish's National Festival). This is because this crustacean has been always part of the traditional gastronomy of the area. Since 2011, the town includes a "Swedish dinner" in its celebrations, during which the residents practice the Swedish tradition of a street dinner with paper lanterns and candles in true kräftskiva-style. For the inaugural Swedish dinner, the festival was honoured by the presence of a special guest, the First Secretary and Chancellor of Spain, Eva Boix.[4]


  1. ^ "Finnish Crayfish Party". Finnguide. Archived from the original on March 10, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d Po Tidhom (2004). "The Crayfish Party". The Swedish Institute. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2006.
  3. ^ Christina Johansson Robinowitz & Lisa Werner Carr (2001). Modern-Day Vikings: A Practical Guide to Interacting with the Swedes. Intercultural Press. p. 123. ISBN 1-877864-88-9.
  4. ^ EL MUNDO. Periódico digital: Cangrejada al estilo sueco en el Festival de Herrera de Pisuerga