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When in Sweden, let’s Fika!

Unlike how Americans enjoy convenient paper coffee cups or formal like the Japanese tea ceremony, Fika is a harmonious combination between the American fast coffee culture and the Japanese flair. Fika is something so Swedish! How this Viking descendant enjoys a cup of coffee is not simply a break, but it also represents an entire country’s way of life.

What is Fika?

In Swedish, “Fika” literally means “drinking coffee”. However, this Nordic people’s coffee enjoyment is not just about picking up a cup of coffee, drinking, and walking. Fika is just a period of rest and relaxation during the day. During this time, people will gather together, drink coffee, have some cakes, and chat. This has the effect of bonding emotionally between people.

Fika also includes a long-standing and unique drinking style, customs, and culture of the indigenous people. It is a great time for them to listen to the local news, ask family and friends, or simply share their upcoming weekend activities.

The origin of Fika

Believed to have originated in the 19th century, Fika is derived from the word kaffi, meaning coffee. Historically, at that time, Sweden had a ban on coffee. Therefore, the followers of this drink used a special symbol to gather each other, and they changed the position of two syllables, removing an f, and creating the current Fika.

Also, there is another theory that the word Fika in old Swedish means “to strive”, so some people have argued that the idea comes from resting from striving for something better.

Fika – the culture of the Swedes

The Swedes don’t want to translate the word Fika, because to them, it means more than mid-day coffee time. Indeed, Fika is not simply a cultural beauty passed down from generation to generation. It is also a phenomenon of social connection, a good reason for people to spend some time together. Social media or work inbox notifications aside, Fika can be a way to pause, refresh, and connect – with yourself, a loved one, a co-worker, or with a book.

On spring days, when the daisies show off on the green grass, or on the winter days when the snow covers the houses, the Swedes also spend a little time during the day to Fika. For them, Fika is nothing fancy, it is simply a part of everyday life.

Swedes usually spend 24 minutes a day on Fika, be it at home or in the office. In Swedish companies, short breaks during working hours are also times when you should Fika with colleagues to tighten up the office relationships. They usually start at 10:00 am and 15:00 pm, and not more than 12 minutes a day. Men often fika more than women, but women do this longer. Additionally, people in the western region are more likely to Fika than the residents in other regions.

Besides coffee, the pastries used to accompany Fika are equally interesting. All are collectively known as Fikabröd, which means the cake used to eat when enjoying Fika. However, the most popular type of pastry is the Kanelbullar cinnamon roll bread. Some cakes that visitors can enjoy while drinking coffee are cardamom cakes, bread, oat cakes, chocolate cookies, sandwiches, macaroons, etc.

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