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Kräftskivan (the crayfish party) is a summertime celebration that is beloved by Scandinavians of all ages, especially in Sweden where it's is a highlight on the Swedish calendar. It is an annual sea food feast full of side dishes, drinks, and joyful songs.

Nowadays imported crayfish can be found year round, but few Swedes are prepared to abandon the seasonal tradition of the crayfish party. In early August, the media thus sets the scene for the crayfish party season with detailed tests of the current year’s crayfish offerings, tips from celebrities and rankings the various brands.

Chinese crayfish are favoured in some years, while those imported from the United States are preferred in others. However, Swedish crayfish are always preferred, cooked the way the Swedes enjoy it: in a brine with lots of crown dill.
Expect beer and ‘snaps,' which are spiced shots of aquavit. Songs are sung before the ceremonial downing of these schnapps. The most famous kräftskiva tune is ‘Helan Går.' Swedes sing it in their sleep.

The crayfish celebration, once exclusive only to the upper class, is now a party for everyone. Certain aspects of the crayfish party are the same as they’ve always been and other aspcets have been added throughout the years. The most important aspects of a modern day crayfish party are: Crayfish parties should be outside (if possible), with brightly coloured paper lanterns placed around the table. The most common lantern depicts a smiling full moon. Paper is also expected to be used for the tablecloth and the colourful plates. Bibs are worn around the necks, and comic paper hats are worn on the heads. And last but not least, slurping is not only acceptable, it's obligatory.

The crayfish are eaten chilled, using your hands.

So, aside from the star of the night, the crayfish, what else are vital things for the kräftskiva? Freshly baked bread, topped with butter and slices of ‘Västerbottenost' is a great and simple addition. Another kräftskiva favourite is a pie made with the same cheese- simply called Västerbottenpaj. 

Don’t be scared to Turn the crayfish upside down to suck the brine – like we said, slurping is obligatory, there's no need to be polite here. Then, using a crayfish knife, wring out the tail and extract the most desirable part of the crayfish meat, then lift the back shield to reveal the delectable "crayfish butter" – a yellowish, butter-like paste found behind the head.

 A crayfish knife is a very much needed tool for cracking the claws, and a dedicated, pronged instrument can be used to pry out the luscious meat - however a fork or your bare hands will suffice.

Make sure you have napkins (or ten) on hand, as well as a finger dish of lemony water, amd always make sure to wear the bib even though it makes you look silly (that’s the point). 

A kräftskiva is a wonderful but messy party that you will never forget.