The Swedish Fika

What is Fika?

Let’s go for a FIKA!” Fika is such an important part of Swedish tradition that it’s both a noun and a verb. Coffee is an inherent part of the culture in Sweden where Swedes stop …just stop to take a pause and gather around coffee and pastries. For Swedes, coffee is not just a beverage to be had in a rush for an energy boost, or to write up to do lists, or to stimulate the body to work. No planning, stress or thinking is desirable over Fika! A Fika is an attitude towards a slow life to forget all your angst and enjoy your existence. To Just BE!

In most cafes in Sweden coffee and breads are included in the price of the meal. Swedes love their coffee black with a dash of milk and a sprinkling of sugar accompanied by a sugary treat. The grand Fika flair includes an array of baked goods; Seven types of cookies, cakes, Muffins, croissants, breads, sandwiches, cheese, and small platters of vegetables typically with radishes, carrots, pickles and smoked fish. Kanelbulle (Cinnamon or cardamom buns) are most popular, Swedes celebrate a whole day dedicated to them: The Cinnamon Bun Day.The seriousness of Fika is so integrated in the society that it’s governed by the law, while the workers in Sweden are guaranteed breaks at 10:00am and 3:00pm and this is the time one cannot disturb them as it’s a time to focus on all the good things in life!

The Fika culture

Fika is a social institution representing the Swedish hospitality of cheering life often with friends, colleagues discussing their love for life, weather, travel and family life and truly bonding over a good coffee and pastry. No work discussions! No Laptops! Unpretentious conversations flow while soaking the atmosphere and conversations. As an explorer, a spectator, I fell deeply in love and gratitude of this effective tradition. I was invited to Fika a few times, a very humbling experience and a great way to delicately devour great coffee and food over deep conversations in warm, cosy hideaway coffee shops scattered all over Stockholm.

Then there’s the usual Fika at home with unannounced guests strolling by in the middle of the afternoon. A more personal approach in an intimate space involves coffee kettles always filled to the brim with a cinnamon bun or cake. No stress and obligations of slaving over a big elaborate meal to entertain guests! And  yet everybody remains happy with hospitality in its simplicity. The focus remains on bonding and not the palate. Coffee and cake together speak for themselves, a way of celebrating life.

Why Fika?

I met the most amazing people during my solitary Fika in cafe’s who shared stories and recipes about the Swedish Fika with me, the Baker and the Anthropologist in me were both thrilled and happy. Fika is a paradigm shift in community building, a cultural element at its best. In life we are always pushing to make things happen and in the process forget the simple joys of life, the satisfaction and gratitude of so many blessings we already have are easily forgotten. Being in Sweden, made me realise how we are socially conditioned to worry and stress about the future. How easily we forget the present, the very moment that we are living in without enjoying each other’s company, and take it all for granted. But being with Swedes, their cheerful, social mentality has definitely left an impact on me and I continue to carry the traditions of the Swedish Fika where ever I go. 

So, Grab your cuppa, head on to your kitchen and bake a simple cake and perhaps a cookie. Later, you can invite a friend over to share with or even share it with your neighbour and get to know them better. Let’s FIKA!