Crayfish party

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 started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to late summer.[2] Today, the kräftpremiär date in early August has no legal significance. Dining is traditionally outdoors, but in practice the party is often driven indoors by bad weather or aggressive mosquitoes. Customary party accessories are comical 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). The alcohol consumption is often high, especially when compared to the amount of food actually eaten. 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 one’s fingers. Bread, mushroom pies, surströmming, strong Västerbotten cheese, salads and other dishes are served buffet-style.[2]


Since more than 40 years, the city of Herrera de Pisuerga (Province of Palencia) is celebrating the Festival Nacional del Cangrejo de río (Crayfish's National Festival). That’s because this crustacean has been always part of the traditional gastronomy of this area. Since 2011, that city includes in its celebrations a “Swedish dinner” where the residents adopt the Swedish tradition of having a dinner in the streets with paper lanterns and candles in true kräftskiva style. For the first “Swedish dinner”, the Festival had the honor of having special guests, the First Secretary and Chancellor in Spain Ms. Eva Boix.[4]


  1. "Finnish Crayfish Party". Finnguide. Retrieved January 31, 2006.
  2. 1 2 3 4 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
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