CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In Finland

Exploring Crayfish Season In Finland

CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In Finland

Exploring Crayfish season in Finland.

Finns and Swedes look forward to August as the warm weathers bring nature’s delicacies from our freshwaters – the wonderful and delicious crayfish season complete with crayfish boil parties with family and friends. As the end of July approaches, you will begin to hear “Helan går Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej Helan går…” originally a Swedish snaps song that is, sang at a crayfish party to open the season.CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In FinlandFrom Hanna,

Imagine this: A little wooden cottage surrounded by greenery and a sparkling blue lake where berries and wildflowers are in full bloom and a long table set in the garden ready for rapujuhlat (Finnish) or kräftskiva (Swedish). You may see hues of white and red, bibs around guests’ necks and risen glasses as another song begins.CulturallyOurs Finland Crayfish Feast Culture And Food TraditionTo many Finns and Swedes August is the highlight of summer as crayfish season has begun. This means, it’s time to sing snaps songs and indulge in the most delicious vibrant red crayfish, that we capture from our Scandinavian freshwaters. The season officially, which is founded in local law starts in the end of July 21 July and lasts until the end of October. Today most crayfish in the world is farmed, but the ultimate delicacy for a crayfish party is to locally source these Finnish or Swedish delicacies. They are a pricy treat (one 12cm long crayfish is easily over 10 euros) and you generally eat about 7-12 crayfish per person. The beauty of our lakes is that we can also capture them ourselves during the night time in a wire trap sort of device. Over the years, some families have come accustomed to a specific local supplier that they use yearly, if not captured themselves.CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In FinlandIn Scandinavia the crayfish is cooked in a salty brine sauce of dill, alive, just as you would with a lobster. If you order directly from a supplier, he will prepare them for you and you will receive them cooked in the salty dill liquid that you just drain, plate and garnish with dill.

So, how do you celebrate “rapujuhlat” in true Scandinavian style?

The party starts early evening as often the celebration is outside and the attire is summer chic. Men often wear linen pants or chinos and women twirl in summer dresses, often wearing white with a little bit of red. Heels are swapped for espadrilles and the atmosphere is casual yet elegant, at least during the start of the party. The table is decorated with meadow flowers, lemon water bowls to wash your hands in and the crayfish, with sprinkled dill on top is set smack in the center. Custom is to serve the crayfish with crispy toast and dill (we also use garlic) butter served with a shot of strong ice-cold alcohol like Aquavit or Koskenkorva. Tradition has it that “one shot per claw”, but this is understandably moderated, in most cases. CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In FinlandHowever, a crayfish party does involve a good amount of alcohol that is consumed over the slow social process of eating crayfish and singing songs. You make mouthwatering toasts from the tails of the crayfish and indulge in the salty succulent flavors of the claws. You can eat the crayfish as a starter or main course, but I personally prefer it as a main as it is a long enjoyable process. Often, we serve forest picked mushroom (like chanterelles) soup for starters that is rich and creamy.

Over the course of crayfish season, there can be several crayfish parties to attend to, with families and different groups of friends at different summer cottages. CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In Finland CulturallyOurs Finland Crayfish Feast Culture And Food TraditionI have crayfish memories from when I was a child and still today, we eat them every year. Some parties are wilder than others, but sometimes families with their children get dressed up and indulge in these summer delicacies leaving out the snaps and drinking songs. Eating crayfish really solidifies the ideology of family and friends being together giving thanks to beautiful summer days.CulturallyOurs Exploring Crayfish Boil Feast In FinlandMost often, rapujuhlat is celebrated at the countryside, so the feeling is magical when you are aligned with Finnish woods and water. It rounds up summer and often when eaten closer to September, it is a slow introduction to darker evenings and changing seasons. This year, during covid-19 times, the feeling of being with loved ones gives it an entire new meaning after being in isolation for such a long period of time.

{Photo and Words by Hanna Kirstiina Amy, Website:, Instagram: @xoamysnordic }

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Crayfish Season In Finland By CulturallyOurs

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  1. june says:

    very pleasant, delightful and descriptive report on customs of Finland , I enjoyed it. thank you