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The Swedish fika culture

Swedish fika
1937: Coffee break in hop farming. Probably Skåne. Photo: Gunnar Lundh / Nordic Museum (CC BY-NC-ND)

Warm, freshly baked cinnamon rolls with milk, raspberry cakes, caramel slices, almond cubes, farmer's biscuits, chess squares, raspberry buns, butter cake, princess cake, strawberry cake, yes, there is no shortage of candy when the Swede is having a snack. Here's a bit about the history of Swedish coffee culture.

Fika is a social tradition in Sweden. The term refers to a break to drink coffee, tea or some other beverage, often in combination with "fika bread" in the form of sweet pastries. Common elements in Swedish fika culture are the cinnamon bun, the sugar cookie and various types of biscuits. Sometimes the fika bread can be replaced by a sandwich or fruit.

The word "fika" comes from an older corruption of the word coffee. The term originated in the 19th century, when it was popular to speak "backslang", a slang language in which syllables were reversed. Coffee, which was dialectally called kaffi, then became fika. The word 'fik' then emerged as an alternative name for a patisserie or café.

Fika has become a well-established part of everyday Swedish culture, which has contributed to the fact that Swedish coffee consumption is among the highest in the world. Having coffee together, either in someone's home or at a café, is a way for friends to get together and talk. Coffee is often served at association meetings and gatherings. Coffee breaks are generally taken for granted in Swedish workplaces, where it is common to have coffee breaks in both the morning and afternoon. Fika then becomes a way to rest and meet, but also a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas.

Print sources:

Holm, Pelle (1976), Words to live by, Albert Bonniers Publishers

via Cultural memory.

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