Swedish Sunday: For the love of Fika.

If you spend any time in Sweden, you will undoubtedly Fika.  And, you will more likely than not, love it.

Sweden is said to rank 2nd in the world in terms of coffee consumption per person.  This high coffee consumption is fostered through the fika (pronounced fee-kah). "Fika" is both a verb and a noun and used to describe an afternoon break which it seems as if the entire city partakes in. Around 3pm each day, coffee shops overflow with people eager to visit with friends over a cup (or two) of coffee, and most importantly, a freshly baked kanelbullar (a traditional cinnamon bun), or a spread of cookies.

While we have coffee breaks back home, they are not taken nearly as seriously as the fika. All workers in Sweden are guaranteed a 10am and 3pm break to facilitate their fika.  (Good luck trying to do any sort of business at 3pm, no one answers anywhere.  Might as well fika!) Most importantly however, the fika is not a solitude event.  It is about friends, family and colleagues relaxing in each others company, and bonding over coffee. You rarely see anyone sitting alone in a coffee shop.

The word fika originates from a former spelling of the Swedish word for coffee: kaffi. I struggled for months to determine if it was a noun or a verb, only to discover it can be used as both. It is not uncommon for someone to ask, "would you like to come have a fika with us," and also say "let's fika!"

Here is a commercial for a Kraft-owned Gevalia Coffee, founded in Sweden, which highligts the fika.  Also an introduction to Swedish humor...

The fika is a wonderful tradition, embraced by every international student who discovers it, including yours truly. My next task is to discover how Swedes stay so slim while eating cinnamon buns daily... but first, time to fika!

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