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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Sweden Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 20, The Crayfish Premiere. In Swedish, it’s called kräftpremiär.
For a long time, the crayfish premiere in Sweden, was held annually on August 7. However, today, the premiere normally occurs sometime at the beginning of August without any specific set date.
In this lesson, you’ll learn more about crayfish, the Crayfish Premiere and crayfish parties!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Swedish homegrown crayfish are very expensive. Do you know which countries Sweden usually import its crayfish from?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In 1878, it was decided that crayfish fishing, or kräftfiske, was to be forbidden during the months of June and July in order to conserve the crayfish population. The Crayfish Premiere then became the date of the year when you were first allowed to fish for and sell crayfish. In 1994, the ban on fishing for crayfish was lifted, but despite this most people still eat their crayfish in the beginning of August.
After the crayfish has been caught, it should be kept alive until boiling. They should also be starved for a day so that the bowels are emptied. The crayfish are killed by being placed head first into boiling water, or kokande vatten. To make sure that they don’t suffer, it is advisable not to add too many crayfish at once, as this will rapidly lower the water temperature. You then boil the crayfish in dill, beer, and spices, which gives them a salty taste. At first the crayfish are black, but turn red, or röd, after being cooked.
Crayfish parties, or kräftskiva, are a Swedish tradition that were first begun in the early 1900s and take place during late summer and autumn. During a crayfish party you’ll eat crayfish, toasted bread, and cheese pie. People will be drinking snaps, singing songs, and having fun together. It’s customary to decorate with Swedish flags and crayfish lanterns with moon faces on them. You also usually wear hats with pictures of crayfish—a so-called crayfish hat, or kräfthatt. In general, people also tend to get drunk on these occasions.
The first time that crayfish was mentioned as a food in Sweden was in a letter from Eric XIV in 1562, where the King commanded that they collect as many crayfish as possible before his sister Anna's wedding. King Eric also bred crayfish in the moats around Kalmar Castle.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Swedish homegrown crayfish are very expensive. Do you know which countries Sweden usually import their crayfish from?
The most common countries are China, Turkey, and Spain. In 1907 the crayfish plague spread across Sweden, and Sweden wanted to make sure that the crayfish didn't die out, so they began importing. Imported fresh crayfish costs around 150 to 200 Swedish Krona per kilo compared to local crayfish which can cost as much as 700 Swedish Krona per kilo!
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you eat crayfish in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!

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Do you eat crayfish in your country?