Why Is Fika, Sweden's Coffee Break Tradition, Dying?

Have you ever heard of "fika"?

The Swedish term (which sounds a bit like a piece of furniture you could purchase at Ikea) actually refers to the act of taking a break during the day in order to slow down and savor a cup of coffee or tea — often with an accompanying pastry — solo or with company.

Basically, it’s super flexible, super relaxing, and could ostensibly be taken multiple times in one work day.

"To grab a coffee on the go is not really a fika," explains Johanna Kindvall, co-author and illustrator of the lifestyle cookbook Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, as reported by Eater. "If you have a cup of coffee on a bench in the park, alone or with a friend, I would say it's a fika, especially if you brought a treat."

"There are not so many rules. At the moment I'm having a five minute fika on top of my stoop, enjoying the sun, waving to the postman and a neighbor ... Fika can be as simple as that," Kindvall concludes.

Fika represents taking a true break, and allowing yourself a respite during an otherwise hectic work day; however, according to Business Insider, American ideas about fika are idealistic, but not necessarily grounded in reality.

“Fika is something I do when I go visit my 99-year-old grandmother," one friend told Ashley Lutz for Business Insider. "It's not something young people do on a regular basis." 

According to Lutz, several other people likewise described fika as a tradition for older generations; fika is no longer considered an integral part of modern Swedish culture. Lutz speculates that perhaps the cultural shift could be accredited to modern-day Swedes working longer hours than previous generations, which makes taking an extended coffee-and-pastry break less feasible.

Of course, other countries practice variations of fika; the U.K. is known for taking afternoon tea, and Spain, various South America countries, and the Philippines all take merienda.

While it's probably too soon to say whether or not the tradition is truly on its way to extinction, for now, Business Insider concludes that fika is a cultural tradition in decline.

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