If you ever happen to visit Sweden, there are a few things you should try to keep in mind. For example, you must always take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. You see, in Sweden, we have weather and if you walk in with your shoes still on, you’re gonna drag that weather in with you and nothing stresses a Swede more than weather on a clean floor.
You should also stick to the good old handshake and refrain from all that silly air kissing on the cheeks. We don’t know how to do that. Is it two, three or four kisses and are you supposed to make a sucking sound as you do it? No, a foolproof handshake will do.
Also, respect personal space. Even if you have trouble hearing what the Swede in front of you is mumbling about, please keep yourself at a comfortable arm’s length distance. If you move any closer, the Swede is bound to back away from you to keep that distance and you will keep doing that awkward dance and no one will get nothing out of that conversation.
Another very important Swedish thing is the fika. Fika is a wonderful thing. It’s both a noun and a verb. To do fika is the act of sitting down with a cup of coffee (or tea or almost any kind of beverage as long as it won’t make your head spin) and a piece of cake, cookie, pie or anything that’s sugary and fattening. You can do it at a café or at home, and it’s usually done in the company of others. You can also have a fika, then you refer to the actual edible goods: the pastry and coffee
Fika is part of the Swedish soul. If you have the time, a proper fika should take about an hour or so which includes eating time and talking time, but at work, for example, you might have to limit yourself in case you have like actual adult job tasks to get done. The important thing to remember is that fika is not an actual meal but a social thing, so a) the calories don’t count and b) therefore it’s not acceptable to have just a glass of water or something stupid like that because that will make the other person feel uncomfortable and enjoy his/her cake less. If you really, really can’t shove even the tiniest bit of biscuit in your mouth, at least have the decency to gulp a big cup of coffee down and be prepared to make it last for say 45 minutes.
Me, I love fika. Both the act and the stuff. I love the sweets and I love the break. Fika is a mood booster on a gray day and a a celebration on a good one. I love going to a café and have a proper cappuccino while I engage in some people watching, but I also love baking the goodies myself. If you hang with me, it’s very likely you’ll get invited over for a homemade fika every now and then. (As long as you take your shoes off and don’t try to kiss my cheeks or invade my personal space or anything.)