This is a question that I have been valiantly attempting to answer since my very first day in Sweden. We have been practicing how to say “kräftskiva” in my Swedish Language & Culture class, since it’s a hard word to say coming from English: the “sk” sounds more like a “qhuii” — can’t really sound that out! As it turns out, I have been here a month and can still barely pronounce it (My host siblings still giggle every time I say it), but I can say it was definitely the “Most Swedish” thing I have done so far.
After traveling to a suburb a bit south of Stockholm to celebrate with my host mom’s brother and his family, we were able to spend the day exploring a beautiful lake and forest area with the whole family (including the dog, Zoey!). Despite the fact that Katja (my host mom) and I spent most of the time wrangling Zoey to keep her from attacking the wild bunnies in the forest, it was quite a fun adventure.
Once we returned to the house is when the real festivities began. Over a glass of rosé, we prepared the traditional dishes for the kräftskiva, or “crayfish party.” This includes crayfish (we made 3 different kinds!), spiced cheese, bread, and this delicious cheese-mushroom quiche-type pie (called “västerbottenost pie,” since västerbotten is the region in Northern Sweden where this cheese is from). Finally, the whole family sat down to eat, put on our festive crayfish hats, and sing the traditional songs. I was incredibly anxious for this part because I am the type of person who mouths “happy birthday” because I am absolutely tone-deaf and horrible at singing.
I needn’t have worried, because as soon as we began, I realized that the singing was mostly just for fun, and we laughed through more of the songs than we sang the actual words. “Helan Går” is the most classic song, and it’s in Swedish, but by the second time around I was having such a good time that I sang along anyways (good thing that’s not on video anywhere). The food was delicious, and it’s super fun to dig in — you just eat the crayfish with your hands and it can get quite messy, but it’s a lot of fun to try and get the meat out and when you finally crack one of the claws open and the juice springs across the table!
We voted between the three kinds of crayfish — the Swedish crayfish came in first, with the Spanish in second and the Chinese bringing up the rear. Not a scrap was left at the end of the meal — very Swedish and very delicious. Initially a bit worried about spending two days and sleeping over with my host family’s family after just 5 days in Sweden, I was so pleasantly surprised that by the time we were halfway through dinner, I felt right at home with everyone and felt like I was just as much a part of the celebration as a real Swede. The night ended with the kids watching a movie and the rest of us playing a fun trivia game until the wee hours of the morning, just chatting and laughing. Jatteruligt! (Very fun!)
In other news…
It has continued to be a super busy semester otherwise. Just to keep you apprised on a few of the other things I have been doing:
1. Boat cruise to Helsinki for the weekend
2. Fika in Kungsträgården
3. Exploring Djurgården and lunch at Rosendal’s Trägård