Back on May 3, 2012, in a post about the Swedish language, I said I would explain what “Fika” is in Sweden. I didn’t mean to wait so long, but as writing and traveling goes, sometimes you have lots of ideas to write on and sometimes you don’t. The time I am spending living in Linköping, Sweden gives me lots of little items of interest to write on.
Fika (pronounced fee-kah) is loosely translated to a coffee break. However to the Swedes it is more than that, and is an important social, and business custom. In the 19th century they used “back slang” for some words. This means they turned syllables backwards for a slang term to represent it. At the time kaffe (coffee) was kaffi, and fika was formed from turning it around.
Today fika is referred to as a break from work, with coffee and pastries. Although any pastry can be chosen, the Swedish cinnamon bun is the most traditional. Also, you don’t have to have coffee, but that is most traditional. Oh, just a side note, Swedish pastries use less sugar than the American counterpart, and I find them very delicious.
Taking fika is also honored for the worker. It can be done at work, but whenever possible it is taken away from work. *In an article about business culture in Sweden, it explains how “Fika” is partly responsible for innovation and productivity in Sweden. Fika is a time to meet informally with workers and bosses, and discuss personal issues, and business issues, with an informal time for input, and problem resolution.
Today I was at Dahlberg Café in Gamla Linköping, which is set up in a traditional 19th century way, and a great place for fika.
Where do you like your fika, or coffee?
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