Time to wake up! Spain’s prime minister wants to end the siesta.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wants to end a long-standing and well-recognized tradition: the mid-afternoon break.
Under new legislation, Spain would switch back to Greenwich Mean Time and do away with siestas, the sleep-filled breaks some Spaniards take.
“I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6 p.m.,” Rajoy said, according to the London Times.
Traditionally, the Spanish work day begins at 10 a.m. and is split in half by a two- to three-hour break known as the siesta. Spaniards traditionally leave at 2 p.m. and return to work around 4 or 5, according to The Times. The work day typically ends at 8 p.m. (As some readers note, not all Spaniards partake in the siesta; many follow schedules closer to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day.)
This isn’t the first time Spain has considered ending the practice.
In 2012, the government loosened restrictions to allow stores to stay open as much as 25 percent longer each week, a move that threatened the tradition. A year later, a parliamentary commission called for both of Rajoy's proposals: The introduction of a 9-to-5 workday (he suggests it should end at 6 p.m.) and the time-zone switch.
Despite sitting in the middle of the Western European time zone, Spain observes Central European time, a change made decades ago in solidarity with Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
“Because of a great historical error, in Spain we eat at 2 p.m., and we don't have dinner until 9 p.m., but according to the position of the sun, we eat at the same time as the rest of Europe: 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.,” Nuria Chinchilla, director of the International Center on Work and Family at the IESE Business School, told the Guardian in 2013. “We are living with 71 years of jet-lag, and it’s unsustainable.”
Benefits of Napping
The word siesta derives from the Latin word sexta, or sixth hour, according to the Atlas of Sleep Medicine. Some believe the practice evolved out of a desire to avoid the crushing midday heat, but according to the authors of that book people in colder climates were also known to have followed a similar tradition.
Researchers have reported that siestas may provide certain health benefits. Just last month, the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Hypertension published a study that found a significant relationship between siesta and decreased prevalence of hypertension. In 2007, a group of researchers found that, among more than 23,000 Greek adults studied, those who regularly took siestas were significantly less likely to die of heart disease.
He made the push at a party conference over the weekend, where he tried to court other parties, unions and business leaders to support the idea.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/04/05/time-to-wake-up-spains-prime-minister-wants-to-end-the-siesta/
Cultural stereotypes abound in reporting of Rajoy’s plan for working day to end at 6pm
The Popular Party (PP) politician had suggested measures that would ensure the working day in Spain finished at 6pm and that the time zone should be shifted to match that of the Canary Islands, Portugal and the United Kingdom – geographically, this is the zone that corresponds to Spain.
These measures have been up for debate for some time now and seek to improve productivity and improve work-family life balance for Spaniards, many of whom still enjoy a two-hour lunch break but in exchange have to work until around 7pm.
mixed up the concept of a siesta with a two- or three-hour lunch break, which is still common in many companies in Spain. “Workers in Spain currently tend to start work at 10am and stay until 2pm, when they take a siesta of up to three hours before leaving the office at 8pm,” read the first version of the article, which was later corrected, and that also referred to acting Prime Minister Rajoy as the leader of a center-right coalition government.
The siesta has its origins in the rural roots of Spanish society, when agricultural workers could rest during the hottest hours of the day. But as offended internet users pointed out in response to the stories, few workers enjoy a mid-day sleep in current times.
What is true is that, according to a 2011 study by the British Office for National Statistics, Spaniards work two hours more every week than workers in the UK, and an hour more than the European average. Perhaps, , the five million unemployed in Spain have the chance to enjoy a nap. “And until the government can find them a job, it won’t much matter when the working day begins or ends,” the article concludes.
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