Fika – the art of taking a break

If you have ever met a Swede, you have probably heard of the Swedish fika. Being one of the worlds top coffee consumers, Swedes have some highly developed coffee-enjoying skills, but when having a coffee is so much more than just a coffee, we are delving in the realm of (the) fika. Fika, a word emerging from the 19th century slang for “kaffi” (coffee) by switching the two syllables, is pertinent to Swedish social culture. It is all about taking a break from the mundane, setting all tasks aside and spending some quality time with friends or family catching on the most recent events or discussing the chaos theory.
Besides the obvious coffee, or tea for that matter, pastries such as cinnamon buns, chocolate balls, cardamom cakes or fruits or other small dishes are crucial for/to the complete experience. And since  fika is mandated by law, most of the workplaces have an obligatory 15 minute fika before and after noon, giving you a fair chance to juice out those last productive working hours.
What really makes the fika, well beside the pastries, is the notion of taking the time for active chilling.
A fika has no boundaries, the absolute best thing about it is that you can entirely customise it so as to fit your dire need; it can be had indoors, outdoors, at city centre´s café in the mornings or midnight fika on a moonlit camping night. It floats independently above all formalities and musts or must nots. Besides being a break for rewinding during the day, an aura of coziness and emotional security lends itself to the fika, giving it the peaceful moment of thought. It is there for you to take a break and relax.

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The regular fika most often entails socialising with friends or co-workers, but then again fika has no boundaries and can serve a whole lot of different purposes, below we summurize our favourites:

  • Studyfika (pluggfika) – meeting up with friends and loosely studying at a café, where the social quality is more significant than the academic one
  • Fikadate – diffusing the formal or potentially awkward date-situation while still getting to know your potential romance
  • Job interview fika – while discussing the serious matter of opportunities and employment, it is al
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  • Graduation Fika  –  can be just the thing when you want to celebrate your achievements but are not totally up for a dinner party. This kind of fika generally requires more elaborate pastries, such as cakes and fruit sallads and providing alcohol, but under no circumstances neglecting coffee or tea.
  • Evening fika – a lighter evening meal, taking it easy with some quality time for yourself before going to sleep. In northern Sweden they sometimes call breakfast as morning-fika, giving it that cozy spice.
  • Friday fika – absolutely my personal favourite type, offering cakes and wine (of course in moderate quantities… by scandinavian standards) are offered at a friday afternoon to sort of mellow out the last working day of the week and kick off the weekend.cakes are essential, otherwise it may be just a regular afternoon)
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It is donned, almost as a cloak, providing shelter from the ever hectic world where the intimate social relations are nurtured. And the coziness factor itself might prove useful when you´re just too lazy to be productive, you can always justify it through fika– acquiring strength and caffeine for the future endeavours.

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