If you’re a self-care enthusiast, then, you probably already know about the Danish practice of hygge, a term that stems from the “Norwegian term, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’ or ‘to console,’ which is related to the English word ‘hug.’” The New Yorker also defines hygge as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” But, have you heard of fika? It’s the Swedish counterpart to the Danish lifestyle, but, while hygge is all about cosiness at home, fika translates to an “afternoon coffee break.” Fika isn’t confined to the home space; it knows no boundaries! If you’re dreading going to work, fika might just change your 9-to-5 mindset.
Fika isn’t your typical afternoon coffee break though. It’s not just a quick detour to the coffee station for a pitiful latte from the communal coffee machine to beat the 3 P.M. slump. The art of fika (which can be used as both a noun and a verb) involves joining together with family, friends, and/or colleagues for a restful coffee break that “clocks out” from the drudgery of work and the distractions of life; no phone-checking or email-stalking allowed. Fika is meant to re-energize you with conversation and stimulation; it’s not meant to be celebrated alone with a takeaway latte cup on your desk. Like I’ve said, fika knows no boundaries, so it won’t stay in Sweden too long (they say fika has inspired this New York City coffee chain), and maybe it’s about time to make a splash in Ireland, the land where coffee comes a close second to beer.
So, here’s a list of 5 essential reasons as to why the Irish need to adopt fika!
It Creates Social Capital
The Irish are incredibly social, and, no, it doesn’t take a beer (or two) to make them extroverted. It just takes a little bit of craic to keep the conversation going. And, add in fika, and the Irish will be the social butterflies we’ve always known them to be. They might even take out the Bailey’s and splash their coffee with just a little bit for an extra ounce of energy to keep the social capital with their mates or colleague at an all-time high! Fika thrives off of social capital, it’s written in the rule book.
It Builds A Habit
I’ve got “fika” scheduled into my Google Calendar. It’s a habit I’ve grown to nurture, thanks to my late Swedish grandmother who never went one day without an afternoon coffee break. It’s been eight years without my beloved Mormor, and it’s become etched into my daily routine that I can’t properly function without a fika. The Irish are creatures of habit; fika wouldn’t hurt their calendar routines. By all means, it would help them make room for themselves and a coffee of their choosing.
It Makes You Physically Active
Fika is a no-no at your desk or on your bed. No way. It’s all about leaving the spaces that you are hovering over on a daily to actually enjoy the benefits of fika. Ireland is a beautiful, lush country with so much to behold, so, if you’re in the need of fika, leave the office to quickly pop in at a nearby café or a local park to walk off any stress you may have, while getting your daily dose of coffee.
That’s the rule with fika: you leave for your coffee break only if you leave behind the distractions. Fika only works if you let it! Say no to answering emails or inputting the last few boxes of your Excel spreadsheet, it can wait. There’s nothing more than enjoying a cup of coffee accompanied by your mates (and a bit of craic here and there).
It Comes in Twos
Ever heard of the Irish handcuffs? It’s when a person is carrying two alcoholic beverages in each hand. Well, think of it this way: coffee might also fit into the equation of the Irish lifestyle. For fika, it’ll be two coffee drinks in hand, so you’ll be able to be energized before going back to work! But, if you can’t stomach two coffees in one sitting, fika also comes in twos with a coffee and a dessert.
I love how the Swedish define fika: the country’s official website chooses not to translate the word of fika in fear that it’ll lose its significance and become just a regular coffee break. They boast that fika “is one of the first words you will learn when visiting Sweden, right after tack (thank you) and hej (hello).” And, I agree. My only advice? Adopt fika as long as you’ll take your coffee with their famous kanelbullars, or cinnamon rolls, which might just replace your friends if you get too attached!