A month has gone and I have no relevant observations for you. My dear friend Malin suggested that maybe four weeks are the time span it takes to move from watching and studying to participatory observation.
I could still tell you things (like that Düsseldorfers seem to not have learned the same traffic rules as the rest of the country, I mean how hard can it be?!, or the never-ending heat that keeps me awake until 2 a.m.) but I will spare you. Instead, I choose to report on our crayfish party yesterday.
Apparently, IKEA invites its business partners to a traditional Swedish crayfish party every year in August. I did not know that because I have never before been in the favorable IKEA business partner position. At our office, everyone really looked forward to this night and we were anticipating the event by hearing about the last years’ parties.
So yesterday, I took my friend Lena as a plus one, and we went to the smallest IKEA I’ve seen so far. The restaurant was decorated with lots of crayfish party accessories including the obligatory silly hats and bib. The point with crayfish parties seems to be looking really silly and drinking strong alcohol (even though many people would claim that it is a celebration of the end of summer).
It was very easy to discern the Swedes/swedified guests and the Germans because only the former wore the hats. At our table, we even sang lots of traditional drinking songs before every Aquavit (which the host sponsored as well as free cocktails and of course loads of food, and a live band – I don’t even want to start thinking about their budget!). Swedish drinking songs are often short, very simple and similar in terms of contents. Usually, the text sums up to something like, “I haven’t had enough. I need to drink more. Let’s lift our glasses”. To the point at least!
The party was great and the singing brought back sweet nostalgic memories of the many occasions in my beloved student town Uppsala where the singing also was a given part at most dinner parties.
However, my issue with crayfish parties is that even though I love the tradition (and that Swedes honor the it by always holding these parties every year), I am not on good terms with the crayfish. Their dead eyes staring at me, their antennas seeming to reach out at me…and then when I have brought myself to cracking one open and apart, I don’t even think they taste particularly good. But oh well, other people need to do bungee jumping to get that kick and feel alive, I can just touch a crayfish.