Swedish drinking songs

Svenska snapsvisor


Swedes love festivals and parties because they provide an excuse for drinking and singing. Although the parties themselves are very good, often in magical surroundings, I usually think that Swedes enjoy planning parties as much as the parties themselves!

Snaps

A bottle of O.P.Anderson with seafood

Parties, such as crayfish parties and midsummer parties, are where the singing is at its most frentic and is always accommpanied by snaps. A snaps is a shot of aquavit, a traditional alcohol found in the Scandinavian countries, which has become an ingrained part of Swedish culture.

It seems strange that alcohol plays such an important part in Swedish parties because Swedes have a strange relationship with alcohol! In the 1920s Swedes held a referendum on whether to ban the sale of alcohol, which was only narrowly defeated, and even today wine and spirits can only be bought from state run shops, which are few and far between and never open when you want them. (I recommend reading Colin Moon's excellent article about alcohol in Sweden.)

Skål!

After every song it is traditional to say skål (cheers). In the UK when we say cheers we often look down appreciatively at our own drink. In Sweden the custom is to look your fellow drinkers in the eye as you say skål!

Helan Går

Helan Går is the most popular drinking song in Sweden and is better known that the Swedish national anthem. On one occasion when a Swedish team won the Ice Hockey World Championship they sung Helan Går, because they didn't know the words to their national anthem! The words in Swedish to Helan Går are: 

Helan går,
sjung hopp falleri faderallan lej,
helan går,
sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
han inte heller halvan får
Helan går

(drink)

sjung hopp faderallan lej.

This roughly translates as:

The whole one goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la la la"
The whole one goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"
And he who doesn't take the whole
Doesn't get the half one either
The whole one goes down

(drink)

Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"

Usually two verses are sung.

Små grodarna

Små grodarna (The Little Frogs) is a popular dance and song mainly performed at midsummer when Swedish children and women run round a maypole pretending to be frogs. Most men stay as far away as possible. The words are as appropriately silly as pretending to be a frog.

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

This roughly translates as:

The small frogs, the small frogs are funny to see.
The small frogs, the small frogs are funny to see.
No ears, no ears, no tails have they.
No ears, no ears, no tails have they.
Quack quack quack, quack quack quack,
Quack quack quack quacka.
Quack quack quack, quack quack quack,
Quack quack quack quacka.

To the crayfish claw

Till kräftklon (to the crayfish claw) is obviously particularly appropriate for August crayfish parties.

Med en klo som är så go
och en pärla jo, jo,
så är det bara,
ja det är bara att konsumera.

Har man fått en,
vill man ha två,
och får man två är det så
att man vill gärna,
ja man vill gärna ha många flera.

This roughly translates as:

With a claw that is so good
and a pearl yes, yes,
all you gotta do,
yes all you gotta do - is eat it.

Have you got one,
want to have two,
and you get two, it is so
that one would like,
yes one would love to have many more. 

DIY lyrics

You have probably got the idea now that the songs are really silly. If you have got a Swedish friend to help you with the songs then make use of them when organising a party! If not, I recommend delegating the task to some jolly wordsmiths, but make sure that they use well known tunes that everyone can sing and short lyrics.

Abba!

If you are not really into drinking songs do as IKEA do at their crayfish parties and put some Abba on and encourage everyone to sing along.

John Duxbury

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