In 1935, there was a hit song that had been featured in a film. The song was considered to be terribly English and was performed by British actor (actually Scottish), Jack Buchanan. The title of the song was ‘Everything Stops For Tea‘.
Of course, it’s more or less accepted worldwide that this is true and that in Britain, everything stops mid-afternoon while we all partake of our lavish afternoon tea.
True, it is our favourite non-alcoholic beverage but please don’t believe that we all sit around like actors from Downton Abbey sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. That just doesn’t happen.
However, if you’re visiting Sweden, it would be pretty fair to say that everything stops for fika.
The official description of fika would probably be something like ‘coffee break’ but its so much more than that. (And I don’t know about you but a coffee break to me is having a cup of coffee – sitting at my desk, hardly a ‘break’, right?)
No, fika, which does indeed include drinking the beverage of your choice (which could be tea, or hot chocolate or whatever takes your fancy) and enjoying a pastry, cake or other treats, is actually an excuse (opportunity?) to take time out of work, to relax.
You see, fika is about slowing down, relaxing and (sorry about this) smelling the coffee. It’s about appreciating the simple pleasures of life. Swedes enjoy fika with friends or alone – it’s a time to unwind. It’s so much more than a coffee break – you could say that fike represents a lifestyle that many of us are ‘too busy’ to enjoy.
These days, it’s even claimed that the fika habit – so ingrained into the culture of Sweden – is beneficial businesswise. Most businesses plan for two fikas per day – one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon – and very often it’s an occasipon where the general workers and the management team eat and drink together.
This, they say, leads to better management/worker relations and the casual discussions that take place during fika often generate valuable business ideas. Whether or not this is true, it’s certainly the case that Sweden regularly is at the top of the tables when it comes to survey results regarding quality of life, economic development, education, prosperity and more.
Maybe fika is a habit that we should all enjoy.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.