'Tis the season for kräftor

Late summer means it's time for crayfish parties  

  • Table set for Ohio's Swedish Cultural Society's annual crayfish party. Photo: Ingemar Svala
  • Guessing most of you will pass on the surströmming (fermented herring, of Sweden’s north), which per tradition premieres on the third Thursday of August, or the ålagillen (eel banquets) of the south, we’ll suggest you do try to experience a kräftskiva, a traditional Swedish crayfish party. Celebrating crayfish goes back to the 1500s when the lakes of Sweden teemed with the fresh food (among other tasty delicacies). Nowadays the month of August starts with the premier of the crayfish, AKA “kräftpremiär,” on August 8. Crayfish season may be short, but it is probably the most popular, beginning two weeks ahead of surströmming season (yes, even the world’s smelliest fish has its own season) and the “dark days of eel” (ålamörkret).

  • With the combined groups, we had more songs and singers, and of course more crayfish: 90 pounds were ordered this time. Photo by Carlo Viglaini (Ohio).
  • A proper crayfish party includes crayfish with lots of salt and dill, snaps, special decorations and hopefully a full moon. It often includes crisp bread and cheese, and some important rituals, such as drinking snaps by the sip (“nubbe”). It’s usually more important to sing (loudly) than to actually drink a lot of snaps, which is also served ice cold and straight up in shot glasses.
    Make plans for your own kräftskiva or RSVP to one of these local *parties:

  • The crayfish party: A traditional Swedish summer party where a bib (and paper hat) are required.
  • PHILADELPHIA—Aug. 16, 6:30 PM: Annual Crayfish Party in the lighted tent outside the American Swedish Historical Museum / www.americanswedish.org
    SEATTLE—Aug. 16, 6 PM: Summer Crayfish Party at the Nordic Museum’s East Garden / www.nordicmuseum.org
    MINNEAPOLIS—Aug. 23, 6:30 PM: Kräftskiva 2019 in the ASI’s outdoor courtyard / www.asimn.org
    CLEVELAND—Aug. 24, 6 PM: 13th annual SACC-Ohio kräftskiva at the Boulder Creek Golf Course in Streetsboro / 216.403.8945 / www.sacc-ohio.org
    CHICAGO—Sept 14. SACC Chicago Crayfish party at Wilmette Harbor Club. For info, see www.sacc-chicago.org

  • In August evenings are still long but darkness has begun to arrive in Sweden. It is crayfish season.
  • *More crayfish parties are happening in September, too. Check our online calendar at www.nordstjernan.com/calendar and if you know of one, please submit it to the free online calendar to let everyone know.

  • Learn more about the tradition of crayfish in Sweden: An Ode to the Swedish Crayfish