Well the Spanish summer is hotting up nicely. The Hondons are reaching 30 degrees plus right now. You wouldn’t want to be rushing around in those temperatures now would you? The Spanish are known for their laid-back stereotype and it would seem also know it makes sense to start work early and rest during that mid-day heat a.k.a. “The Siesta”. Right?
Or do they? According to a recent 2017 BBC article the modern Spanish are the hardest working nation in Europe. Putting to bed this idea they lounge about in the sun for hours on end. In the small town of Ador, near Valencia, the siesta is sacred. So sacred, in fact, that in 2015 its mayor enshrined its citizens’ right to the afternoon nap in law.
In rural and farming communities like Hondon, 2pm is definitely the long lunch break, schools release hungry children to their families, shops do shut for about 3 hours and the bars or restaurants are very busy at that time. The streets are deserted! On the coast it is less so due to the mass demand of tourism and the cities need to accommodate services for a 9 – 5 business schedule. Almost 60% of Spaniards never have a siesta, while just 18% will sometimes have a midday nap, according to a recent survey. But it is still a tradition you will see a lot on the Costa Blanca, especially in rural agricultural areas like the Hondón Valley.
Unlike northern Europeans, the Spanish rarely sunbath, they are wiser to seek shade and be cool indoors. But the workers here do like to start about 8am or before with a breakfast break around 10am and knock off about 2pm. They return to work later in the afternoon when it cools and work until early evening. This disjointed day came about because in post Civil War Spain, many people worked two jobs to support their families, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Which also explains why the Spanish eat a lot later than us Brits. So they have a longer day than most of their European counterparts.
We suspect the modern EU era means that Spain has to compete with other EU countries and the bigger towns and cities, like Alicante, Elche, Madrid and Barcelona have mostly given up their siesta break for a more office based work schedule. There have been calls for this to be the norm in Spain in line with the rest of the EU and to promote a better work/life balance. Well, we can’t see that happening in Hondon for a while, who seem to have it sussed anyway.
But we find the siesta quaint and teaches us stressed out Brits and north Europeans to slow down. It doesn’t take long to get used to closing shops at lunch times, early Saturday closing and definitely closed for Domingo (Sunday) … Sunday’s are still sacred, a religious day of rest and family time for church, fun lunches, markets and the beach? We are old enough to remember the same thing in the UK before Sunday Opening laws. Yuk! we don’t want to do that again!
So we like and have gotten used to the Spanish Siesta. We can see why this Spanish tradition might epitomise them as a nation but in truth they do work hard when they need to and for a lot less wages than others. Since 2008 unemployment is high so when work is available they can put the hours in. They still seem to cherish family time around the table, look after each other and mostly live in humble homes around here. We certainly don’t begrudge them their traditions and apparent manaña lifestyle… long may it reign we say.
It’s what most foreigners are looking for after all.