Today I met a friend for fika. It’s such a great Swedish word. Literally translated, it means to have a cup of coffee. But the term has actually become a social institution of sorts and more typically means coffee and conversation. At work, everyone stops to take a fika break with their colleagues. It’s the time to catch up on what is going on and perhaps share some gossip. In the US, if I brought in some sweet treats to share with my staff, everyone would want to have them first thing in the morning. But in Sweden, my staff would set them aside and wait for the fika break in the afternoon.
And speaking of sweets, it’s very common to have that fika break with some sort of treat such as a cinnamon roll (kanelbulle), what we in the US would call a Danish (wienerbröd) or my favorite and what I had today – a dark chocolate ball with coconut on the outside (chokladboll). You might also take your fika with a small sandwich or smörgås.
The word fika is multilayered in that it can also imply taking a break from work or meeting a friend at a cafe or patisserie. With all its many layers of meaning, fika has long been one of my favorite Swedish words. And I don’t even drink coffee. But that’s OK. It’s perfectly acceptable to take fika with tea instead.