Swedish crayfish party - an August tradition - Moz Sweden

Stories from the north

Swedish crayfish party – an August tradition

Crayfish is a delicacy in Sweden, and the fishing season starts in August and ends in September. That’s why Swedes celebrate the tradition of catching crayfish with a late summer party called ”kräftskiva”.

The history of having crayfish

In Swedish, crayfish are called ”kräftor”, why the whole celebration is called ”kräftskiva”. Swedes have caught crayfish for many, many years, but it became regulated by the Swedish state in the 1920’s because of the fear that crayfish would run out.

The regulation limited crayfish catching to the months of August and September, and quickly became a celebrated tradition when the season started. Still to this day it’s a beloved tradition, often celebrated with friends, great food and of course the thing Swedes do best: silly hats and weird songs.

Friends cheering at crayfish party.

Catching crayfish

Crayfish cages look like long cylinders, with a special entrance that prevents the crayfish from slipping out once they’re in. Load the cages with something really nice – fish heads for example – and tie a long string or small rope to the cages. Lower them into the sea or in a lake late at night, and make sure they rest on the seafloor. Tie the rope to a tree or something similar, so you’ll find the cages the next morning.

Oh, and one small warning: live crayfish are dark grey, or even black in color. So don’t be afraid you’ve caught the wrong kind – they go red once you cook them.

Wooden bucket and trap for crayfishing.

Eating crayfish

Having crayfish is a loved tradition, and often done during a party with friends called “kräftskiva”. Here are the must-haves for a proper kräftskiva:

  1. A long table – the more people the merrier – with a nice table cloth
  2. Hanging garlands of colorful little flags
  3. Round, hanging lamps made of paper, with a picture of a smiling face
  4. More hanging decorations made of paper, in the shape of crayfish
  5. Bibs for adults – of course decorated with a crayfish
  6. Small party hats – decorated with what? Crayfish!

Snaps, drinks and cheese pies are additional foods and drinks for a kräftskiva, even mandatory for some. Oh, and since you eat crayfish with your hands: don’t forget to load up on napkins!

Table decorated for crayfish party.