Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Fika"


Whether visiting or living, you simply can't be in Sweden too long without learning about and experiencing "fika." Fika can be a relatively simple coffee break or a longer celebration of people and food. Fika almost always involves coffee (one of the most treasured of goods in all of Scandinavia) or at least tea and usually bread, cheese, crackers, jams, butter and the like. Fika involves friends, co-workers, strangers, you name it. The picture above is me with colleagues during morning fika. Trust me, they're as happy as I am with fika...

Not a day has gone by where my colleagues and I have not had "fika" at approximately 9:30am as well as 3pm. It's a twice daily ritual that I've come to appreciate, especially because it's very rare for my colleagues and I to discuss work during fika. In our case, our morning fika includes the foods and afternoon is simply a coffee break, but sometimes includes a dessert of some kind. As we gather each day, we can look across the courtyard of our building and watch the other companies and organizations having their fika at the same time. In the end, "fika" is an opportunity to take a break, enjoy the company of others, gain sustenance and partake in a time-honored Swedish tradition, on a daily (and sometimes twice daily) basis.

With all that fika has to offer individuals and communities, watch out. Fika can't be far from a marketing campaign at a coffee establishment near you. Of course the American "live to work" ethic may get in the way of the daily fika, but even Americans need to take a break from work once-in-a-while.

Shout out to Stephanie Van Driel for pointing out an unthinkable omission in last week's Famous Swedes entry, ABBA! My Swedish friends have yet to forgive me....

And I actually succeeded in placing a couple more pictures this week. The first is "Tre Krona" or "Three Crowns," a symbol of Sweden, this one found at the top of Stadshuset, Stockholm City Hall and the second picture is of a replica Viking Ship, minus the bloodshed and conquering, which tours around the waters of Stockholm during the summer months. Come visit me and Stockholm (as well as fika, of course) will be on the agenda.

6 comments:

robo said...

my afternoon 'fika' today involves drinking a coke/diet coke beverage out of a chinese soup container. its awkward and yet awesome all at the same time. remember that one time we were in sweden and we had afternoon coffee with the students while watching the olympics? that was pretty rad.

i hope that your life gets a tad more interesting over yonder because i feel bad that you have resorted to telling us all about your eating habits...

Todd said...

I actually knew what "FIKA" was!!! Well, I know it as the coffee shop on West 58th in Manhattan...and now I know that Fika is actually a foreign word and not an uber-trendy-made-up word for caffinated New Yorkers.

It got me thinking about everything-Swedish in New York. here are a few:

- The town of Sweden, New York...right near Lake Ontario (who knew the state of New York was near Lake Ontario)

-There's the empty bottle of alcohol - Akvavit - in my apartment. That's Swedish. (see 9/26 entry)

- There's half a chocolate bar (Schweizernöt) in my pantry (by pantry, I mean pantry, closet, bathroom and bedroom...they're all one room in NYC).

- There's the Swedish Institute of Massage. I've not been...but now that I know it exists, I made an appt for tonight.

- Sarah - the Swedish girl I went on two dates with...before she moved back to Sweden. Bummer for me, but Sean...just start calling all the women Sarah...I'm sure you'll find her.

That's about all I can come up with that's Swedish in NY (in 15 min or less). Not a comprehensive list, but a list nonetheless.

But this is supposed to be a comment about Sean's blog, so...

Sean - nice entry this week.

Sarah in seattle said...

fika would never fly in the US because we are such greedy capitalists. We would have to prove that fika has proven outcomes and are somehow profitable. Capitalism sucks! Can I get an amen from your dad, he has been surprisingly silent on this blog. What's up with that.
It was good to see you seany, I miss you, only when you are far away from me. And how obvious is it that Todd's Sarah isn't in Sweden...c'mon todd get with the program.

Johndad said...

"Fika" sounds like a great concept rivaling "siesta". Sean, from your descriptions of Sweden, fika would be an expectation rather than surprise. The U.S. (at least the urban U.S.) simply doesn't understand morning and/or afternoon time away from "the dssk"! Capitalism should only be viewed as one aspect of a person's life rather than a life-style. The person with the most toys does NOT win and often looses the motivation or even the ability to enjoy them. I am very optimistic about the U.S. because 1) a new govt. is just around the corner and 2) because the U.S. is an adolescent country contrasted to Sweden and most of Europe. It is a culture supporting a quality life that is the goal rather than a culture supporting the gathering of money. Prague has adopted the more frenetic approaches to westernization and the custom of fika would be hard to find. All of my students work for Ceske Sporitelna bank. I discussed the czech work ethic and all of them knew what "workaholic" meant. Most work 10-12 hours and are quite busy. I think no room for fika at that bank.
I would really enjoy the fika but would probably gain 30 additional pounds especially considering the afternoon dessert.

Christopher said...

What the fika? They stole my boat!

malin said...

Enjoy all the the times you have fika, cause you'll miss them. Myself, I'm from Linkping and now in usa (minnsota) instead. That's one of the things that I miss the most... (Your article got send all the way from sweden to here by my grandparents =P)