Fika is often translated as “a coffee and cake break”, which is kind of correct, but really it is much more than that.
Fika is a concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. Many Swedes consider that it is almost essential to make time for fika every day. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat.
Fika cannot be experienced at your desk by yourself. That would just be taking coffee and cake.
Fika is a ritual. Even the mighty Volvo plant stops for fika. All Swedes consider it important to make time to stop and socialise: to take a pause. It refreshes the brain and strengthens relationships. And it makes good business sense: firms have better teams and are more productive where fika is institutionalised.
Fika can be a verb. Swedes will say to each other, “Let’s go and fika!” or “You and I fika together so well”.
Exactly what you eat during fika is not really important. The food is incidental to the companionship, the socialising and catching up with friends and colleagues. But whatever food you choose for fika it should be fresh and well presented. Ideally it should be homemade. Many team leaders in Sweden consider it important to regularly bake something at home to take into work for fika.
Often fika is enjoyed by candlelight, even if it is in an office or the corner of a factory. It’s all about slowing down and finding time for friends and colleagues, whilst you sip a drink and enjoy something small to eat. Candlelight helps!
Wherever you live, give fika a try in your daily schedule. You can never be too busy for fika!