So, there were 7 of us. Three Englishmen, one Scot, one American, one Canadian and one South African. But, because we all live in Sweden, we all knew actually what to do.
You see, Sweden is usually associated with reserved behaviour and pleasant manners. However, on several occasions a year, such as tonight, this myth is busted wide open.
I am referring to a traditional get-together where where little food is actually eaten but alcohol consumption is high,where drinking songs are screeched out into the night sky and where audibly slurping and slobbering your food is considered proper etiquette. What event is this? The Swedish crayfish party.
The crayfish party is, as it sounds, a party where Swedes slurp and slobber crayfish. Now, eating crayfish is quite hard work. There isn’t much meat on these crustaceans and the little blighters can be quite tricky to crack open. This small amount of food, coupled with copious amounts of beer and snaps usually leads to a rowdy and boistrous atmosphere.
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. Dining is traditionally outdoors, but in practice the party is often driven indoors by bad weather. Customary party accessories are comical paper hats, paper tablecloths, paper lanterns (often depicting the Man in the Moon), and bibs.
And believe me, those bibs are needed…..