Way, way up north, where the Arctic winter freezes all the lakes over and keeps the fish trapped below the ice, the cold weather also keeps the people indoors which keeps the water creatures off the humans dinner tables. But now it’s summer. The lakes ice has melted, the weather is pleasant, which means it’s also time to go fishing, and catch yourself something to put on the dinner table. It also goes hand in hand with a great party that happens through August in Norway. The Crayfish Party.
Strangely enough, the 3 countries that share the same peninsula that juts into the Arctic circle, they have many inland lakes that freeze over, and share the same custom of having a great party which revolves around the idea of eating crayfish and have a good time. Those countries are Sweden, Norway and Finland.
The reason for the particular celebration in August, was because earlier in these countries history, the crayfish had dwindled significantly in numbers. To help keep this crustacean from extinction they made it only possible to fish for them in August. With this developed the tradition of a party to celebrate with the eating of crayfish. Nowadays, the crayfish can be acquired most of the year thanks to sales from fish markets, so you can really have a party while eating crayfish any time of the year. But August is the month to do it, also because you can do it outdoors, and till late in the night without the sun going down.
Crayfish are to be eaten outdoors, and gaily coloured paper lanterns should be hung round the table. The most popular type of lantern shows a smiling full moon. Both the tablecloth and the colourful plates are also supposed to be of paper. People wear bibs round their necks and comic paper hats on their heads.
Then the feast begins. You eat crayfish cold, with your fingers. Sucking noisily to extract the juices is perfectly acceptable behaviour. Bread and a strong cheese such as mature Västerbotten are eaten on the side. People mostly drink beer and the inevitable schnapps.
As the article above suggests, the drinking part of the Crayfish Party is just as important as the method of eating the crustaceans, and as it suggests the main beverage is schnapps, called akevitt in Norway.To read more of this article from Sweden.SE click here
If you don’t live in the northern countries of Scandinavia, you can celebrate this great party, (without the schnapps) in you local IKEA store. Tell them to serve you some schnapps because as the local says, part of the whole ambience of the celebration are the festivities, and merry-making that follow. The merry makers will often sing songs to accompany their festivities like the well-known song of Helan Går in Sweden.
We wish all the people celebrating a Happy Havskräfta