Fika – A Swedish Way of Life

Fika – it is a noun, a verb, and a way of life for Swedes.
Quiet possibly the best part of anyone’s day.

thanks lh for finding this!

Now don’t you just wanna fika right about … now?!
thanks to Rinse for the photo

In British English a fika could be referred to as “high afternoon tea” but the definition is limited. High Afternoon tea is had in the afternoon and with the company of friends and scones.

In America English a fika would be “to have a  coffee” (verb) or a “coffee break” (noun).  Both definitions have limited meaning but get the gist across.

The Swedish way of defining fika is drinking coffee (verb), to have a coffee (noun).  Most people understand also fika as having a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, just nothing alcoholic. Glögg, a Christmas mulled wine is the only exception since it is consumed during one month of the year.

Fika is important because it gives employees a few minutes throughout the day to catch up on gossip, sports, and life. A bit reminiscent of the water cooler though with a darker, nuttier, acidic drink. With friends, fika is the easy way to grab a coffee and cake and hang out at the cafe for a few hours.

To have a fika:

  • A fika can be had anywhere, it is not physically limited to a restaurant or cafe or office. You can have a fika at home with friends or go to the park and fika.
  • Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are the proper beverages to fika. Most Swedes drink a black death version of coffee (remember – quantity over quality) but if you are fancy, go for the French or Italian press.
  • A proper fika includes something sweet. It can be as little as chocolate truffles or more traditionally a pie {paj} or cookies. Swedes love berry pies, carrot cakes, princestårta, and the infamous chokladbolls {formally known as a negroboll}.

I am so used to using fika that I say it to even my American friends. Seriously, which is cooler: let’s grab a coffee, or, let’s fika. The latter duh.

Next time you want to show off your Swedishness, ask your friends or coworkers for a fika.

How often do you fika?

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7 thoughts on “Fika – A Swedish Way of Life”

  1. We don’t call it High Tea – we call it afternoon tea. High tea is an event that used to take place when my father was a child, it took place a little later, around 5pm and usually had a hot snack of some kind, but with cake to follow. Our afternoon tea is usally around 3.30-4pm and in very smart places can be sandwiches followed by cake, but for most people just the cake is enough. I love going out for afternoon tea, but it does usually mean that I can’t manage to eat an evening meal as well. Heaven knows how they used to manage it in the olden days.

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