Crayfish party – the end of summer in Finland

I recall my first crayfish party, two years ago. My host was a great friend from Sweden, where this kind of party originates. Later on, I learned that it is also a Finnish tradition, and that it’s something that simply can’t be missed if you want to have a self-respecting Finnish summer experience. What’s the party about? Read on.

Decoration for the Crayfish party
Decoration for the Crayfish party Source.

The crayfish party: what is it about

The crayfish party it is a celebration devoted to the pleasure of eating and drinking in Finland and other Nordic countries in Summer. Originally from Sweden, it was introduced in Finland by Swedish-speaking Finns.

The time of year for celebrating at crayfish parties starts in late-July and the parties can take place until the end of October. Even so, the most popular time is August and September.

The aim of the party is to celebrate the last days of summer surrounded by family and friends. Such is its popularity that on these dates, shops bring in many decoration accessories portraying crayfish: tablecloths, napkins, aprons, plates… You can see an example from the party I attended, including funny-looking party hats (also a classic part of the event). The picutres of the party, crayfish in hand, I should probably keep for myself.

A table decorated for the crayfish party

Table manners and how to eat at the crayfish party

Normal table etiquette goes out the window because of the nature of the main dish. On the table there should be enough crayfish for everyone, and they are prepared boiled but already cold. They are accompanied by fresh dill and are supposed to be eaten with your fingers – thus there is also a great need for napkins. Making some noises while eating is not an etiquette problem, since it is necessary to get every tasty bit out of the crayfish.

There should be also plenty of bread, and an optional salad or soup as an entrée. Good desserts after the salty crayfish are some pie or ice cream. Regarding the selection of drinks – also a great part of the crayfish party, I assure you – they are ice-cold schnapps (there should be plenty) along with some beer, wine and water.

Something you discover at the crayfish parties is that people drink more than they eat, since eating crayfish isn’t easy and there is not a lot of meat in them. On the other hand, the availability of the drinks and the ease of getting them down makes them much easier to have in comparison. And, after all, we are in the North of Europe: schnapps are pretty much mandatory at great events like this.

About the location, these crayfish parties are celebrated outdoors (remember that it celebrates the last good days of the summer). Reasons to have them inside are the unpleasant – and huge – Finnish mosquitoes, or the eventual rain.

My experience at a crayfish party was great. There were people from 5 nationalities at my table, and we got to enjoy plenty of food and fantastic crayfish-like accessories; my favorite: a paper-made sun with a happy face on it, a true decorative item of any crayfish party. We drank the traditional Swedish drink, Aquavit, and we all sung the official crayfish party song. A great evening, and a great Swedish and Finnish tradition.

Crayfish party
Tastiness at the crayfish party: . Source.

Have you ever been invited to a crayfish party? How was it?

I've been writing about Finland for 8 years. In these articles I am trying to transmit my passion for Finland, its marvelous nature and cities, its people and the culture of the country. Thanks for reading!