The history of snaps songs

One of the things students in Lund value a great deal is singing songs from the beloved songbooks of nations and unions. Our very own LundaEkonomerna songbook was revised before Lundakarnevalen earlier this year and we can now find no less than 175 songs in it. But from where does in fact all snapsvisor originate from. Let us take you on a journey which will bring you back in time…


We go back all the way to the medieval age when people from the very beginning started to sing songs during dinner. One of the more famous composers of drinking songs was actually Carl Michael Bellman. His maybe most famous and popular drinking song was ‘’Gubben Noak’’, which was not very popular within the Church, as Bellman made fun of a biblical character. A group connected to the church in Lund tried to collect all copies of the song in order to burn it down, but did not succeed.


During the 19th century, it became more popular with snaps songs, which led up to actually consuming a drink. The main reason to why this happened is that snaps songs are connected in a better way to the moment they were sung. Most people that from the beginning sung snaps songs were people from the upper class and students. Many snaps songs were written during the years to follow, but there is one that might be more famous than the others.


The maybe most famous Swedish snaps song is ‘’Helan går’’, which is song 53 in the LundaEkonomerna songbook. In case you are not from Sweden, have a look at song 88, and you’ll be just fine anyway. ‘’Helan’’ is the first snaps to be consumed during the dinner, one reason to why it is common in general to sing this song as the first snaps song during a sitting. The second snaps is called ‘’Halvan’’. When Sweden won the Ice Hockey world championships in Moscow, USSR in 1957, the players did not know the lyrics to the Swedish national anthem ‘’Du Gamla du Fria’’, so instead, they sang ‘’Helan Går’’. In my own opinion, I think this portrays the popularity of this song in a very good way.


The tradition has lived on through many of our food traditions, for example crayfish parties and classic ‘’Smörgåsbord’’. Today, the snaps songs are a very Swedish phenomenon, and even though it has been around for some time, there are not too much evidence to why it would stop. Every year, a Swedish Championship in the noble art of writing snaps songs is held, and over 200 entries every year are submitted. The best entries will be sent to the world championships, in which 2 countries participate every year (Sweden and Finland). And as all entries from Finland is in Swedish, one can easily state that snaps songs are a very Swedish thing.


My personal favourite? A pick from the song book would be, ‘’Jag har aldrig var’t på snusen’’, but if I would have to choose a proper snapsvisa, ‘’Mera Brännvin’’ or ‘’Vikingen’’ would not be way too bad either.  A little hint to all the event coordinators and toastmasters for future sittings within LundaEkonomerna.


Malkolm Wester

Editor-in-Chief of Nådiga Lundtan, VT 2019

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