Playing off of our previous dive into why the Scandi people might just be the happiest people on earth, let’s look into one of their daily practices that will certainly add some value to your everyday too.
In visiting Sweden, Ranger Station’s personal favorite Scandi country, you will generally learn three words fairly quickly. These are tack (thank you), hej (hello), and fika...
The word itself is half verb and half noun. In the 19th century a common practice of reversing syllables within a word may have encouraged the word fika out of the word for coffee: kaffe. But the word is also innately action oriented as you can go back even further and find a form of the word fika that simply means ‘to strive for.’
But, while fika translates relatively easily to something along the lines of ‘getting coffee’, they're not just striving for a cuppa and a bun. And the Swedes themselves put a lot of weight in the the meaning behind a word. So much so that they will tend to shy away from trying to translate or explain the meaning of fika and risk boiling it down to an idea far inferior to its reality. So instead, let's explore what this practice looks like in action.
Fika is the practice of getting and or consuming good coffee and good sweets (ideally homemade by a Swede) and it is practiced multiple times a day in Sweden, and many other countries influenced by the Scandinavian culture. So it’s no accident that the Swedes are one of the largest consumers of quality coffee and homemade baked goods in the world. And furthermore I'll say it’s no accident that these lovers of the good things in life live some of the happiest of lives.
And you won’t find many restrictions put on this practice. You really don’t even need to drink coffee. Fika revolves more around creating the environment for healthy breaks throughout the day. Be it morning, afternoon, or evening. Though a caffeine free tea may be a better option after dark. And it’s about the community that it can create. Even within the workplace, Swedes are a very communal people and value everyone and there input. And fika creates an environment where anyone can have the floor.
And while healthy in the workplace, it’s certainly not restricted to it. Based in this communal nature, fika can be practiced with family, friends, a date, an acquaintance, etc… It is practicing a conversation over those things that make us feel comfortable (coffee and sweets) in a place that makes us feel comfortable. It’s giving time to ourselves and those around us, speaking into peoples lives and letting ours be spoken into to. It’s the vulnerability that takes place in the corner of the local cafe as two people get to know each other, or on the living room floor as a couple takes time for their themselves, the lunch room as co-workers catch up on life, and at the dining room table as the family strengthens the sinews of that core unit. The opportunities for it are countless.
But no need to think about it too much. On the contrary, don’t think about it. Just try it. The recipe is quite simple. A cup of good coffee next to a pastry or sweet of choice, in your favorite cafe or room of the house, and unhindered conversation with undivided attention to that person or persons you’re doing life with.
Let us know your thoughts on and experiences with Fika in the comments below!