In the last blog post, you learned that you can already read Swedish. (Well, the important words anyway.) Which is pretty cool.
But let me tell ya, in Sweden, the four letter F-word is a whole different story.
“Fika” is one of the first words we learned when visiting Stockholm (and not because we slammed a finger in the door, or because someone cut us off in traffic.) I told you, it’s not that four letter F-word.
The dictionary definition of fika is “to have coffee,” but there’s a lot more to it than that. It really means to stop and take a break during the day, and it’s more about relaxing and socializing than consuming a specific beverage.
Fika is a huge part of Swedish culture, similar to tea time in England, and participation is not particularly optional. Everyone does it (preferably several times a day), and it’s even built into the typical work schedule. Fika happens around 10:00am and 3:00pm, and if you don’t stop working to have a coffee break with your fellow coworkers, you are being pretty #rude.
It’s also not a time to sneakily answer emails on your phone, or to check sports scores, or to chug your coffee as fast as you can. (This is Sweden, not America.)
It’s truly a social phenomenon, and fika is essentially a reason to set aside quality time to talk. When Michael’s family was in town, we took turns answering Table Topics questions to spark our fika conversation.
While fika traditionally refers to a coffee break, in contemporary times, it has been expanded to mean drinking tea, juice, or lemonade as well. And it’s also used in compound words such as fikabröd (“fika bread”) to refer to all types of cookies, pastries, and small sandwiches served during this time. FIKA YEAH. I’m always on board with snacks.
In fact, at Pressbyrån (which is basically a fancier, Swedisher version of 7-Eleven), if you buy a cup of coffee, your fikabröd is only 5 Swedish krona extra! Making your fika around $3 USD total, and the absolute cheapest thing you will ever buy in Sweden.
Cinnamon or cardamom buns are the most traditional treat during fika, but any really any small snack works. Over the course of several fikas, we got creative.
We had lil heart pastries…
And we even continued the tradition in Norway, with some Freia chocolate.
So now you know.
If you ever find yourself in Sweden, and someone asks you, “Want to fika?” they are not being extremely forward. They’re asking you to drink a tasty beverage, consume a pastry, and spend some time socializing.
Get your mind out of the gutter.