Expats Spanish siestas under threat

Published:  15 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, Study Abroad
Spain’s interim Prime Minister has announced a controversial new plan to do away with the country’s traditional siesta.

To most of the world and its expats, Spain is best known for three things – paella, bullfights and its much-loved, traditional three-hour siesta. Banks close, shops shut, traffic dies down and the streets empty for three hours, whilst Spaniards take a short snooze and enjoy the cool of their haciendas. However, if interim Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has his way, all this will end when Spain’s working day joins that of the rest of the EU.

Rajoy is proposing that the working day should end at 6pm, and is determined to realign Spain with GMT as well as British Summer time, a necessity to ensure his plan is successful. At present, most Spaniards start work at 9a.m. with their day ending at 8 or 9pm, punctuated by a three-hour break at lunchtime.

Expats and visitors aren’t put to much hardship by this regime, as larger stores, restaurants and malls tend to stay open all day until late, but in the business world many tend to agree with the PM's proposal. The general opinion is that lunch breaks need cutting, business meetings need streamlining and punctuality should become the norm.

A recent study went as far as to suggest that ending the siesta or at least reducing its duration to the traditional norm of a 45-minute nap would reduce marriage breakdowns and increase the average Spaniard’s quality of life. Other studies suggest that a nap at midday encourages better health.

There’s hope yet for those who believe the three-hour siesta break is an essential part of Spanish culture, as Rajoy may yet be removed in the upcoming June elections. For most expats living in Spain and especially the majority in the sunny southern Mediterranean coastal cities, the siesta has always been an excuse to sleep off lunchtime over-indulgence in Spanish food and wine – it’s unlikely this will change as the result of a parliamentary edict!
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