Swedish Festival

A Swedish friend told me about this festival now held throughout Sweden: “This is very, very Swedish. We have this things called the ‘kräftskiva.’ So, um, what are they called…lobsters, a direct translation would be lobster dinner. You celebrate with family, bring friends, this can start at like 2 in the afternoon and you sit around and around eating and eating these fucking lobsters, and you drink Swedish schnapps. Swedish schnapps is very, very different than Americans’ version. It’s very clear, and tastes like ethanol – even the good ones, and it’s always clear. Right, so you can spend like 7,8 hours sitting around drinking schnapps. Some people drink beer, but, you know, it’s not really the traditional thing to do. This is typically during the midsummer time, but it doesn’t have to be a specific date. It has become so traditional that it’s like as traditional as Christmas. Its origin probably has something to do with fishing, but I’m not sure. So, cities all over Sweden have this now. So many people get wasted. Sometimes there are silly games like tying shoe laces together, hopping in bags – adults play them too. I guess it represents a time for us to have fun and act differently than normal…but by eating lobster as a way of acknowledging the sea and tradition of seafood in Sweden.”

This is interesting in that is does provide a depiction of the society’s values and that which provides their sustenance. The lobster symbolizes their connection with the past, the food of their ancestors, and is celebrated during a liminal stage in which people can act differently than normally ascribed behavior. This is indicated with the hearty consumption of alcohol and the playing of “silly” games even among adults.