Swedish Language Blog

Mid-August Means Crayfish and Moon Illusions Posted by on Aug 21, 2020 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

Kräftmånar. Photo: Carolina Romare / Image Bank Sweden

Kräftmånar. Photo: Carolina Romare / Image Bank Sweden

What do harvest moons and crayfish have in common? They can both be seen, and the crayfish eaten, around mid-august. When kräftskiva – Crayfish Party is on the docket, Swedes revel in the last bit of summer with outdoor garden fests, lots of decorations, messy crayfish eating, and, japp, drinking ALL the drinks. A little bit of kräftskiva googling will deliver a fair share of recipes for the iconic västerbottenpaj, lessons on preparing you dilly kräftor / crayfish, and which drinking songs are obligatory! But for this post, I thought I’d focus on something just as important, but maybe less apparent – the kräftskiva décor. 

But first, to jog our memories, kräftpremiären, “The Crayfish Premier” is August 7 each year, and the beginning of kräftfiskesäsongen – the “crayfishing” season. According to Nordiska museet, crayfish weren’t commonly eaten among Swedish commoners until the 1900’s, a tradition traveling north from the European continent. It was considered a party food, because acquiring enough crayfish to eat – as well as the physical process of eating them – is a bit of a chore. To commemorate the hard work, kräftor are washed down with akvavit / aquavit. For more about what a kräftskiva feels like, see this anecdote from an earlier blog.

Now that we’re brushed up on kräftskiva, let’s hone in on décor! For me, vases filled with dillkronor / crown dill, hanging lanterns, and place settings with crayfish adorned paper bibs and hats come to mind. But probably the most common decoration found at a crayfish fest is the kräftmåne. Translating to crayfish moon, this paper decoration is commonly found hanging above the table. It’s a round, crimped yellow and red paper circle with a jolly, grinning face as seen in the photo above. But what’s the significance of this quirky decoration? I realized I had no idea and deciding to do some digging.

Harvest Moon - Wikipedia

                                          Harvest Moon – Wikipedia

It turns out that because kräftskiva happens in sensommaren / the late summer, it aligns with a phenomenon called månillusionen – the moon illusion, also referred to as the harvest moon. This spectacular sight is an optical illusion that happens as the moon sits on the horizon and looks much larger than it really is, often showcasing a RED color. So kräftmånar are a play on the Man in the Moon, and the sight of an enormous red moon one may see on an August eve, while slurping snaps and enjoy tiny, but succulent pieces of salty crayfish meat.

Feeling a DIY moment? We all need to spend more time using our hands besides tapping away on the keyboard or scrolling on our smartphones. Helena Lyth, a designer and blogger based in Stockholm will be our guide! Her website chock-full of suuuper svensk pyssel /craft, heminredning / home décor, and recept / recipes with a modern take on the classics.

I’ve included part of her post here, but you’ll have to visit her website for the step-by-step photos!

Gör egen dekoration till kräftskivan

Helena Lyth – Gör egna kräftmånar

Vad som behövs: Tre gula A4-papper, röd tuschpenna, lim (gärna limpistol), tunn ståltråd

Gör så här:
Måla kortsidorna på A4-papprena med röd tuschpenna på det gula pappret, både på bak och framsida.

Vik hela pappret, långsidan, i dragpelsvikning och avsluta med att vika på mitten.

Limma ihop de två “benen” och gör likadant med de resterande två pappersarken.

Limma ihop de tre “solfjädrarna”, håla och häng upp.


Will you make one?! Tell me about it in the comments? 

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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.


  1. evan:

    just went to my first crayfish party in sweden!

    • Chelsea B:

      @evan Vad skoj! What was your favorite part, Evan?!