One of Spain’s famous cultural traditions is the controversial siesta. It’s far from controversial to Spaniards, of course and you can find property in Marbella. But to foreigners visiting the country, it can range from bewildering to infuriating! Especially when they’re unprepared for it. Many embrace it too though. After all, getting a chance to relax once a day isn’t something everyone is fortunate enough to have.
‘La siesta’ literally means ‘a short nap’. This is an under-exaggeration, given that the siesta is three hours long, and happens right in the middle of every day. Some say that the siesta originated in the Spanish civil war, when people had more than one job and needed a break in between them, but this is unconfirmed.
Although it was once used as a way to get away from stifling summer heat, it is now more of a cultural norm, happening all year round. Not everyone sleeps though; many use it as a chance to reset, eat, or spend time with loved ones.
It’s not only Spain that loves a siesta
The siesta contributes in a big way to the relaxed Spanish lifestyle that is usually so attractive to foreigners. So popular is the siesta that it has been wholeheartedly embraced by other countries too; South America, the Middle East, North Africa and the Philippines are all on board.
It is possibly one of the most important factors in stress reduction within this culture. By the end of a 9 to 5 shift in your home country, the chances are that stress levels will have crept up. Most Spanish won’t even entertain this idea, even if it means not capitalizing on commercial opportunities.
What the Spanish might (at worst) see as forsaken commercial opportunities, foreign visitors often see as inconvenient and frustrating. Having said that, it depends what you want to achieve though, and which region you’re in. In the Malaga province, plenty of bars and eateries will stay open to cater for your needs; the same goes for large stores. Andalusia in general loves a siesta, and many places here will close for the siesta each day.
The tradition is probably not going anywhere
The rest of Spain holds on tenaciously to the beloved cultural tradition. Siesta takes place between 2pm and 5pm, and many places in Spain close down so that locals can get a rest before their afternoons kick off. You will notice that in Spain, dinner is eaten fairly late, by British standards at least. The locals will eat between 9 and 10pm at night, and a leisurely pace. Whether this because of the siesta or the siesta is a result of that tradition, it’s hard to say.
For many visitors, between 2 and 5pm is an ideal time to while away a few hours browsing shops and looking around the towns and cities. They won’t find much going on if they do, so the best option is to embrace the Spanish schedule and make the most of a siesta!
Given that the siesta has been around for at least 1,500 years, it doesn’t look likely to disappear any time soon… and why should it? It is a healthy one, according to many studies. Common sense and experience tends to confirm this for most of us anyway. If you’re tired or mentally lethargic, a nap is a fantastic way to refresh both body and mind.
Siestas are great for your health
Global studies have also confirmed that a daily nap (for half an hour or more) leads to a stronger heart; you’re 34% less likely to die of a heart condition. It is probably true for most that after a short nap, you are able to think more quickly and clearly, with more motivation and drive for your daily tasks. The same studies concluded that a nap will make you more efficient too.
Perhaps the reason why lots of Spanish businesses still allow their employees to nap or relax in the middle of each day is that they understand the ways in which this will benefit the business. Employees that aren’t stressed – on the contrary, they are more productive – are surely an asset to a business.
It would be a mistake to assume that siesta is an indication of Spaniard’s laziness, as some foreign cultures tend to assume. Could it be that the Spanish just know what’s best for their general well being? Putting quality of life over a dogged determination to achieve can hardly be considered an unhealthy pursuit, can it?
With this in mind, we recommend embracing the siesta if you plan to be part of Spanish culture. Looking for property in Marbella can be a tiring task as there are so many tempting options! You may well need a siesta before you make your decision. If there’s anyone that can help you to find the perfect house for sale on the Costa del Sol, it’s Paradise Marbella. We’ll be waiting.