A Spanish tradition — an hours-long afternoon break known as the siesta — is at risk of extinction.
The country’s prime minister has announced plans to eliminate the siesta, and streamline the work day.
Visitors to Spain might have wandered through a deserted Madrid street mid-afternoon, wondering where all the people have gone. The siesta is a time for shops and business to close from about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. to around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., after which the work day continues into the evening.
The break was originally implemented to cope with Spain’s often scorching-hot climate, and a midday break is not uncommon in other hot countries, particularly for those who work outdoors.
But as times change, and Spain continues to recover from an economic meltdown — the country still sits around 20 per cent unemployment — the siesta’s demise appeared to be only a matter of time.
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Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wants the break to be minimized so that the work day will line up more closely with the country’s neighbours, Euronews.com reports.
“Rationalisation of working hours in Spanish companies and institutions is of primary importance. I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6 p.m. every day,” Rajoy said.
Rajoy also wants the country to change its time zone, to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in line with London.
If the siesta should come to an end, don’t feel too bad for Spaniards: workers are required to receive a minimum of 22 vacation days per year, along with 12 national holidays.