When living in Brussels I used to organise a traditional Christmas fika* every year before Christmas for all my friends and colleagues. I used to ask people to bring a bottle of cheap red wine for the glögg (mulled wine) or a traditional Christmas cake / sweets from their home country.
It was always nice to see everyone gathered before we headed home for Christmas and we would eat saffron buns, pepparkakor (ginger snaps), turrón (Spanish almond cake), panettone (Italian Christmas cake), cannoli (Sicilian pastry), pain d’épices (French sponge cake made with spices and honey), speculoos (Belgian biscuit very similar to the Swedish pepparkakor – speculaas is the Dutch spelling) etc.
Last year we didn’t organise a Christmas fika since we didn’t know that many people in Puerto Rico but this year I decided that it was time for some julmys (Christmas cosiness) together! This is the invitation I sent out:
Merienda de navidad/Christmas Snack/Goûter de noël
Les invitamos a la merienda sueca tradicional por navidad
el domingo 14 de diciembre a las 5 de la tarde
Traigan su espíritu navideño!
Please come to our traditional Swedish Julfika on
Sunday 14th December at 17.00
Don’t forget your Christmas spirit!
*fika [feeka:] (noun and verb) is a very important concept in Swedish culture. It consists in coming together under relaxed forms for some chit-chat over tea, coffee or lemonade with some biscuits and sweet bread called kaffebröd (meaning coffee bread) or even a sandwich.
The most common coffee bread is bullar (sing. bulle, not to be confused with köttbullar – meatballs) = sweet buns. To go for or take a fika is a great way to get to know and make friends with Swedes.
Common subjects of conversation are the latest news, the weather and what one has been up to lately. Sensitive subjects to avoid with someone you do not know very well are politics, money and love. And of course Jul [Yul] means Christmas…
[I really don’t know where I got this definition of “fika” from, I used it for my Christmas fika invitations in Brussels as well but can’t find the source anywhere on the internet now]
Christmas fika with a red book (Undantaget / The Exception by Christian Jungersen – very good!)…
As usual half of the people invited didn’t show up (this is just a fact of Puerto Rican life, and it happened quite often in Brussels as well – I don’t take it personally) but those who came seemed to enjoy themselves! The guests were our Puerto Rican neighbours S and J (who taught us to cook Puerto Rican food a few months ago), our very sweet relocation / real estate agent E, my French friend E from l’Alliance Francaise and FOUR** Swedes + 2 half-Swedes (children) and Puerto Rican husbands / wives.
It was actually the third Sunday of Advent yesterday but this is a photo from last year…
The glögg and Daim-chocolate (bought in Ikea in New Jersey) were definitely the most popular things on the table, but the arroz con leche / rice pudding / riz au lait / risgrynsgröt was not far behind in popularity. The funny thing about this dish is that most Swedes don’t seem to like it, even though it is the traditional Christmas dessert in Sweden! I love it, and so do most of my foreign friends – in Brussels it was always the only thing that we would run out of! Nowadays I make it a little sweeter due to a certain Spaniard who likes it made with a can of condensed milk… I was told that in Puerto Rico they make the arroz con leche with coconut milk for Christmas – maybe something I should try next year when we hopefully organise another Christmas fika somewhere else…
O and the children performed a very loud parranda, with Carola singing Nu tändas tusen juleljus in the background and the conversation was a confusing mix of Spanish, French, English and Swedish – just the kind of get-together that I like!
I wrote a post about Puerto Rican Christmas traditions last year but I will write more about the traditions on Friday (since the theme is very fittingly Christmas traditions!). Meanwhile, read more about our Christmas experiences last year under the category Christmas in the Caribbean – I will be adding new posts during the month of December.
I wanted to add some photos from yesterday but I can’t find the usb-thingy for the memory card (grrr, think O used it last time!) so you will just have to enjoy some photos from last year!
**) Opps, I counted myself – so actually only three Swedish guests, which is still quite impressive when living in Puerto Rico!