5 European Traditions You Can Recreate and Enjoy at Home

Don’t get me wrong – having access to hundreds of virtual tours and live feeds when we can’t physically access thousands of destinations is an incredible thing. We can take a peek inside the Louvre, meander through Walt Disney World, or check out a bird’s-eye view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower in the comfort of our own homes.  But sometimes, the visuals just aren’t enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also want to experience the smells, tastes, and sensations that come with travelling to different places. And I have some good news for you – WE ABSOLUTELY CAN!

Even though the possibility of international or even national travel may still be months away, read on to check out 5 European Traditions you can easily recreate and enjoy at home. 

European Traditions to Recreate at Home Pin

Dreaming of adventures in Europe? Check out 5 European traditions you can easily recreate and enjoy at home! #staycation #socialdistancing #europetravel Click To Tweet

As an added bonus, if you’re in need in some time offline, these traditions can give you the chance to escape the screens anywhere from 15 minutes to a handful of hours. 

1. Aperitivo, Italy

Let’s start with a classic.  Aperitivo is the Italian ritual of getting together with friends, enjoying a drink, and nibbling on a light snack after work finishes but before dinner begins. The term originates from the Latin verb “aperire,” which translates to “to open.” Aperitivo typically consists of drinking a more bitter beverage, such as an Aperol Spritz, “to open” up the appetite. However, you’re more than welcome to help yourself to your drink of choice, whether it be a glass of wine, a beer, or a fancy cocktail. On the food side of things, light snacks include charcuterie board staples, such as cured meats, cheese, bread, and olives.  To explain Aperitivo very simply, it’s basically Italy’s version of the North American Happy Hour. 

How to recreate Aperitivo at home:  Reach out to a few friends or co-workers. Schedule a time for a group voice or video call after work (but before dinner). Personally, I’ve been using Zoom or Google Meet. However, Instagram recently launched messenger rooms too! (Nevertheless, if you’re in need of some quality time with yourself, I’ve also enjoyed Aperitivo solo so go ahead and do that if it’s more up your alley!) Next, compile the necessary ingredients. Make sure to have your preferred drink and light snack in stock and ready to go. If you want keep it traditional, a super simple Aperol Spritz requires:

  • Aperol (I put in roughly 1 shot)
  • Prosecco (I pour about 2 shots)
  • Club Soda/Unflavoured Sparkling Water (I add in about 1 shot)
  • Ice
  • An orange slice (if you want to make it fancy)

Get things going, raise your drink and say “chin-chin!” (The go-to toast phrase in Italian) 

Aperitivo Aperol Spritz

A classic aperitivo Aperol Spritz being enjoyed in Lisbon, Portugal (above) and Verona, Italy (below) circa 2016 and 2019.

Enjoying Aperitivo, Italy

2. Fika, Sweden

Taking breaks and temporarily stepping away from your work can improve your overall productivity and Sweden knows it well.  Fika is the act and art of taking proper coffee breaks – typically around 10:00 am and 15:00 (that’s 3:00 pm) during a work day. Yes, that’s 2 well-deserved breaks! While sipping on your caffeinated or non-caffeinated beverage, it’s recommended to indulge on a tasty treat whether it be a cookie, a cinnamon bun, chokladbollar, or a slice of cake. Oh, and before I forget, fika is meant to be a social activity, so if you feel inclined, connect with your remote colleagues or friends!

How to enjoy a “fikarast” (a fika break) at home:

  • Keep an eye out for the time or set an alarm for 10:00 am and/or 3:00 pm
  • At either or both of these times, pour yourself a hot cup of coffee or other beverage of choice
  • Grab your preferred treat
  • Optional: Give a friend, colleague, or family member a quick voice or video call
  • Enjoy your break for the next 15-20 minutes

Enjoying Swedish Fika - Coffee

Indulging on a cappuccino outdoors back in 2018.

Swedish Fika Cake

A pretty elaborate almond-based fika cake for  Easter.

READ MORE: 11 Amazing Things about Living in Sweden!

3. Siesta, Spain

While it’s not as common as it used to be, siesta refers to taking a short midday nap, usually after lunch. Siestas were popular amongst agricultural workers since the early afternoon tended to be the hottest time of the day. Working in blazing heat can be extremely challenging and exhausting, especially in a country with a warmer climate.  Even though most of us may be working indoors, an early afternoon nap can still be relaxing and re-energizing. I don’t know about you, but I frequently experience the midday slump. I find I end up being more productive when I let my body have a quick rest vs. trying to fight through the exhaustion. As well, since many of us are working from home at the moment, a comfy spot for a quick power nap may only be a few steps away!

How to enjoy a Siesta:

  • Feeling tired after lunch? If you don’t have any meetings or calls scheduled, find a spot to lay down in your home
  • Set a gentle alarm to ring in 15-20 minutes and close your eyes! 

(TIP: You don’t want to nap for too long, because then you may fall into a deeper stage of sleep. If that happens, you’ll end up feeling more groggy than refreshed). 

Scandinavian interior living room

A throwback to my cozy Swedish apartment. Many naps where had on that couch. 

Hygge Scandinavian Living Room

4. Hygge, Denmark

As with many traditions, there’s no simple and concrete translation for hygge. In simplified terms, Hygge is feeling cozy and content in your environment. It can be seen as a combination of taking part in self-care rituals, feeling warm, being mindful, and prioritizing a work-life balance. Hygge is more about creating an atmosphere of happiness rather than going for a  physical “look”. Yes, I know that there are sooooo many articles and posts circulating about hygge decor and design, but that’s only a small part of the picture.  Some Danes may tell you that hygge is the very reason Denmark gets consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. 

 How to Enjoy Hygge at Home: Creating hygge can be a very personal experience based on your personality, tastes, and needs. However, here are some typical ways to start building that cozy and relaxed atmosphere:

  • Light your favourite candle or candles and bask in that warm glow. I have a handful of scented candles, and I thoroughly enjoy taking in their aromas too
  • Gather your favourite blankets and pillows and burrito yourself up. (Both of these work especially well on cooler evenings or nights)
  • Pour yourself your favourite drink and grab a small tasty treat
  • Temporarily disconnect from social media, the internet, or whatever else you may be plugged into. Grab that book you’ve been dying to read or that journal that’s been calling you to write
  • Breathe.

Hygge - Cozy Candle

The smell of pumpkin spice is to die for in the fall…

Hygge Living Room with Lilies of the Valley

…but fresh lilies of the valley were my go-to in the spring.

While international travel opportunities may still be a couple of months away, check out 5 European traditions you can easily recreate and enjoy at home! #europetravel #staycation #socialdistancing Click To Tweet

5. Afternoon Tea, Great Britain

Lunch was 3-4 hours ago and you’re starting to feel a bit peckish, but dinner is still 3-4 hours away. What can you do? Indulge on some Afternoon Tea! Afternoon Tea is the British tradition of enjoying a hot cuppa with a small side of finger sandwiches, bread with jam/marmalade, or pastries around 4:00 pm. The story behind Afternoon Tea explains that the tradition’s original purpose was to tide people, usually the elite, over until dinner time, which was served fashionably late at around 8 or 9 pm.

Afternoon Tea is super easy to recreate! Simply:

  • Keep an eye out for the time or set an alarm for 4:00 pm
  • Turn your kettle on or place it on the stovetop
  • Prepare yourself a light snack
  • When the water boils, pour yourself a hot cuppa and you’re good to go!

Afternoon Tea

I can’t ever refuse a cup of tea. 

Afternoon Tea

There’s no doubt that all 5 of these traditions prioritize rest and relaxation. The emphasis on building a balanced life in so many European countries is one of key factors that draws me to the continent time and time again.  Now, trying all of these out in a single day will definitely lead to placing any work on the back burner, so if you were to experience one per day, which one would you like to try first? Happy Travelling

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