Culture Shot: Fika

by Melissa on June 7, 2011 · 0 comments

In September 2010, I went to Sweden to visit a friend of mine who was on exchange at the university in the northern Swedish town of Umeå.  During my six days in this university town, I was introduced to the Swedish custom of fika.


Fika is, in the simplest term, a coffee break to be enjoyed with colleagues, friends, and/or family.  It is as common and institutional as breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be something as simple as stopping work to take a coffee break or going out to a café to enjoy some coffee and dessert treats.  The most diehard fika enthusiasts will argue that having a sweet baked good, such as cookies or cake, with the coffee is a must – but for myself and my friends, we would stop and enjoy a cup of tea and perhaps some bread and cheese.


It was a very interesting custom to experience, as it is so unlike North American culture.  It reminded me a lot of how Mexican’s have their siestas or Italians like to close down for an hour or two in the afternoon to go home.  By the end of my stay in Sweden I was much looking forward to the 20-30minute fika breaks we would have every few hours…. It was a nice way to relax and socialize with those around you.   North America—take note, it’s time to instate fika into our lifestyle!


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