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Thursday, February 20, 2014 (read 25679 times)

Spain's Daily Schedule

by Tyson

In Spain, traditional eating, sleeping, and working schedules are in very general terms quite different than those in other European countries and in the US: restaurants open for lunch at 1:30 pm and start filling up at 2 – 2:30 pm, dinner time is at 9 pm or later, and prime time TV kicks off at 10 pm. Nightlife usually doesn’t start stirring until at least 11:30 pm, and then it carries on for most of the night, often even on weeknights.

Spanish Lifestyle

Work schedules vary. While some workers follow an 8 to 5 type schedule, many follow the more traditional Spanish work day which includes a much longer lunch break and a later quitting time. The New York Times published an article this week (Spain, Land of 10 pm Dinners) which argues that a time-table change, including eliminating the traditional long lunch break  (which the author suggests includes a siesta) would benefit families, promote productivity, and allow Spaniards to get more sleep at night. The article, complete with quotes from Spaniards saying things like “we want a more efficient culture”, has sparked a flurry of comments, many of which defend the Spanish lifestyle, criticize America’s work-driven way of life, and explain that the daily nap in Spain is a stereotype that does not reflect reality.   

Spain’s daily schedule made headlines around the world last fall when a parliamentary commission report explored the possibility of changing the country’s time zone, explaining that it has remained in the wrong time zone since World War II, which could have something to do with today’s later customs. Much of the international coverage of the story was as critical of Spain’s schedule as the New York Times was this week: CNN money flatly referred to it as a “screwy work schedule”.

The commission report explains that during the war, Spanish dictator General Franco decided to shift the country’s clocks ahead one hour to match Germany and Italy’s Central European Time (CET). Western European neighbors Portugal and the U.K. (Spain sits directly below Britain) also switched to CET to avoid wartime confusion, but switched back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) after the war ended. It seems Spain has remained stuck in a later sun cycle than its CET time zone mates ever since. The commission insists that adopting the geographically appropriate time zone may help promote an earlier, possibly more productive schedule, with Spaniards getting more sleep.

Supporters of Spain’s traditional schedule however point out that it fosters a healthy life in group settings, as it: allows families to enjoy a relaxed and wholesome lunch together, gives friends a chance to socialize at night, and it may prevent heart disease and other nutrition or stress related diseases.  

It doesn’t seem likely that Spain will switch time zones any time soon, and even it does, it’s not clear how turning the clocks back an hour would have much effect on deep rooted customs. Many observers note that Spain currently turns time back an hour every year in observance of daylight savings, which has no effect on its customs. Many wonder why Franco is even a part of this conversation, arguing that he had nothing to do with these customs. In any case, visitors are always encouraged to celebrate the differences that make Spain unique by embracing its rich heritage.

Keywords: spanish traditions,living in spain,spanish customs,life in spain,siesta in spain,customs in spain,spanish siesta,time zone spain,spanish lifestyle

Posted In: Spain, Culture


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