Advent Calendar 2017: Dec 15th - Fika!
It’s not the reason we moved here but it’s a pretty awesome part of being Swedish. Fika happens all the time. Coffee and a treat of some sort, usually a cardamom or cinnamon bun; with or without company, it’s a treat! I’m not much one for candy, as noted by my confusion regarding so many candy stores in our ‘hood, but I LOVE baked treats and a good cup of simple coffee. And I hear it’s rude to refuse fika, soooo, don’t mind if I do! I’m learning to watch out for the cream-filled treats (Swedes love their pastry cream and milk-doughs) but overall, this tradition is one I can get on board with. In Finland people drink more and stronger coffee even than in Portland, but it’s a more fiscally conservative culture and Finns don’t tend to have baked goods or take too much time off to enjoy them. If only for the sake of my starting to network to find work, I appreciate the general willingness to take time out to commune with your friends, colleagues, and some woman who just moved from the States and wants to ask too many questions in mediocre Swedish about your work (me, of course!). I mean, that’s really the only reason I join in…
Fika has a really fascinating history. You can watch this YouTube series about it if you are really interested (it is in English). I recommend Episode 3: the Memories. The most interesting part, to me, is that there was a time when Coffee was prohibited in Sweden. That didn’t stop anyone though, people just took their coffee pots and mugs to the woods to enjoy a good cuppa. To stop people from indulging, the government would traipse around breaking people’s coffee mugs and pots. The image is just too hilarious. People must have been drinking such an obscene amount that the irritability of the population was unbearable. I can’t imagine why this was so important to the government! At any rate, the Swedes were using early PigLatin, I suppose, and started calling their Kafi break "Fika" to throw off the authorities. I can't imagine it fooled many, but it explains how an otherwise-not-Swedish-sounding-word has become quintessentially Swedish! And it is tasty and treasured and creates openness in an otherwise somewhat closed culture, so God bless ‘em!
We enjoyed so much fika when we arrived (you know, just in an attempt to blend in a little better) that we had to slow it down a bit. All fika and no exercise doesn’t end well, so we’re trying to add in some smoothie fika (Cora is the master at making them with spinach, ginger, lemon and some vitamin C super berries AND getting the kids to love them!) and some exercise is going to be our new year’s resolution I think.
In the meantime, have a fika with a friend and think of us, and when you come to visit, we’ll make sure you get a chance to partake in this grand tradition! Cheers!