Fika, the secret of Swedish happiness
Fika is one of the first words you learn in Swedish, when in comes to Swedish cuisine, whether you are in Scandinavia for a holiday or to live there. The Fika in Sweden is one of the most important social moments: making a Fika is synonymous with meeting to have a coffee, a tea, eat a delicious dessert and have a chat.
What is Swedish Fika
The Fika is an institution in Sweden and is one of the most important social moments, although it is very informal. The Fika is nothing more than a break that is usually taken in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon. It can be done with a friend in a coffee shop or at home, or even at work with colleagues. This break is usually accompanied by a cup of coffee, but also tea or hot chocolate according to taste.
During this Swedish rite, you don’t just drink, but usually eat something sweet, also called Fikabröd. So the Fika turns into an opportunity to exchange “a chat” with a friend, in front of a good Kanelbulle (or a Semla during the Carnival period) and a steaming cup. The Fika is an integral part of everyday life in Sweden. This coffee break is taken calmly sitting at a table, a habit that no Swede would give up for any reason in the world.
The story of the Swedish coffee break
Understanding the origin and history of this Swedish tradition is very difficult. Unfortunately there are few written sources that allow us to understand why the Fika in Sweden is so felt. We can therefore try to find out what are the popular traditions and customs of the past of this sweet habit.
Most likely the word Fika comes from a play on words. It is assumed that there was an exchange of the syllables of the old Swedish word Kaffi, which meant coffee. Over time, the word Fika began to be used more and more, not only to indicate the drink, but to identify the social moment of the coffee ritual. From a simple coffee break it has transformed over time, into an opportunity to chat informally with friends and colleagues.
Another curiosity about Fika is that in the past, in addition to the classic cup of coffee, it was necessary to offer not one, but 7 different types of sweets. This habit was born first in the homes of wealthy people, and then spread also among the less well-off social classes.
Presenting so many sweets to their guests was a way to show that the family could afford such delicacies economically. In fact, even today among the elderly, there is this habit of offering their guests cakes and pastries, which are called Fikabröd.