Nordic Christmas Traditions: Fika (the Swedish Coffee Break)

Easy English Toffee

I’m including a Nordic Christmas Tradition with the WeekendCoffeeShare today! So come on in and sit awhile, while we enjoy a fika!

The Nordic lifestyle is one to be envied! Purity and simplicity are essential elements! In Sweden, Fika is translated as “coffee and cake break.” It is an essential part of the culture! It serves not so much for the coffee and cake, but for the time for family, friends and co-workers. It can be called different words in different countries, but they all share the significance of sharing a bite to eat and drink.

The word, fika, is a sort of slang using the Swedish word coffee ( kaffi) and a play on words.  Turn the word backwards, scramble the letters and it works…… It means, “take a break”……..Folks in Sweden say, “Let’s go and fika,” only in Swedish of course , Ha Ha!!

When a guest drops in for fika, according to the 1940’s book, Sju Sorters Kakor, (seven kinds of biscuits) seven is the ideal number of different kinds of cookies to serve. If you don’t have seven kinds, serve three kinds or five kinds, always an odd number!

Finland has the “serious” coffee drinkers. They average between three to nine cups a day, as the norm! Nine cups is considered totally normal! The average Finn is drinking between 20 to 30 pounds of coffee a year! It is mandatory by law, to all employees, to have two 10-15 minute coffee breaks at work, every day. This is, in addition, to a 30 minute lunch break……They believe this is a work-life balance! The Fika is a serious and necessary diversion from the stresses of life. At work or school, there is typically a mid-morning and mid-afternoon time for a strong brew and a sweet bite. Most Finns take their coffee black too. Finland, Norway and Sweden rank in the top ten of the world’s coffee-consuming countries.

Coffee arrived in Sweden in the 1600’s and quickly became popular with the upper classes. However, the kings were not keen on the new drink and encouraged their citizens to drink beer. In 1746, King Adolf Frederick imposed a big tax on coffee, which many of the folks refused to pay. After ten years, coffee was illegal in all of Sweden! It was banned five times between 1756 and 1817.

King Gustav III, was particularly against coffee. To test the terrible beverage, he started an experiment on two prisoners. One prisoner had to drink coffee every day and the other tea. He was convinced the coffee would kill the prisoner, but as it turned out both prisoners outlived the King! Sweden’s coffee-hating kings didn’t manage to stamp out the delicious beverage and coffee became a staple on the blackmarket.

Today, for our Fika, I am serving you this……….I have been baking my Christmas goodies, so please have one or more!

Cappuccino Biscotti
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Lucy Cats or in Norway, lussekatts, are saffron buns for St Lucia Day, celebrated on December 13th. Lucia was a virgin, who rejected her suitor and gave her dowry to the poor. For Catholics, Lucia was associated with light and they prayed to her for eye problems or to help them find something. The Saffron buns have raisins to represent eyes in a sleeping cat. In Nordic Tradition, young women dress in white and carry candles to the church to represent ancient rites, that mark the Winter Solstice.

Traditional Norwegian Christmas Saffron Buns ( lussekatt) or Lucy Cats
And Fruitcake From My Mothers Fruitcake Recipe!

I can truly say, when we were in the Nordic countries, there was not a day that went by, that were were not offered Fika! I will be writing about it more in my posts from Oslo, a little later!

I hope you have enjoyed my posts on the Nordic Christmas Traditions!  There are more to come before Christmas!

To see more WeekendCoffeeshare posts look HERE!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. If I were not so tired, I’d start baking up something for this afternoon’s Fika! Actually, next week, the 4th of Advent, I’ll be baking up a storm — from oatmeal cookies to cognac fruitcake cookies and the cranberry bread for Christmas brunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like that recipe for the cognac fruitcake cookies! We are home now until after Christmas! Had fun in the free state of Tennessee!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jo Shafer says:

        I’m posting here as a reply to your request while I listen to a recorded performance of King’s College Choir, Cambridge. If you don’t already have a packet of mixed candied fruit in your pantry, I hope you can find one in time for sometime during the Christmas season.


      2. Jo Shafer says:

        Scroll down several entries until you find the recipe.


  2. Do you have recipes for some of these, Cady? The Cappuccino Biscotti look interesting. If only I could simply pluck one out of your picture and nibble it with my mug of hot — well, cappuccino, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I have recipes for everything ! I will not be home till Tuesday though ! We rented a stone cottage in Leipers Fork, TN for the holidays! Having fun!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. If you would like a recipe email me at and I will email them to you!


  3. Dan Antion says:

    Now I am hungry. Unfortunately, I’m staring at a bowl of cereal. Those all look so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo Shafer says:

    COGNAC FRUITCAKES (or muffins)
    1 pound container mixed candied fruit
    1 cup gold seedless raisins
    3/4 cup cognac or rum or brandy
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    1 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    [1/4 salt, optional]

    Place candied fruits in a large bowl; add cognac and toss loosely. Cover and allow to stand 1 hour while combining rest of ingredients.

    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition.

    At low speed, beat in combined flour, baking powder, sugar, and spices. Pour batter over fruit mixture and mix thoroughly with large spoon. Mixture should be somewhat stiff. [I mistakenly sifted and had to add to thicken. Batter really should be more like a soft dough.]

    Fill prepared cupcake tins by spoonful. If you choose to drop onto cookie sheets, dough will spread and become flatter.

    Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes until pick inserted in center comes out clean.

    Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes, then dump out and turn over to continue cooling thoroughly. Store in tightly lidded cookie tin or other container. When you open the container, inhale the heady aroma. Enjoy with a cuppa tea/coffee/eggnog!

    OPTION: Brush muffin cakes with cognac blended with powdered sugar. I like mine either glazed or just plain.

    SOURCE: Elizabeth Cornelius in Florida Times Union (Jacksonville), 1960s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! Thanks for the recipe! I will save it for next year! You are right about buying the mixed candied fruit! I buy it in November and it is the only time I see it! It is usually then on the end caps at the grocery and then poof “gone.” They don’t get very much of it either! It must be for us old-timers! I love that this is an old recipe too!


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