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La Siesta

La Siesta

La siesta in Spain is a famous tradition which consists on a short nap of 15-30 minutes. Find out information about the Spanish siesta and its tips.

Spain's famous siesta brings on a sense of calm and tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, to many tourists, it is merely a cause of frustration and confusion. Between the hours of 2pm and 5pm, Spain shuts down to allow the locals to rest after a long and hectic morning and prepare for the busy afternoon. Meanwhile, the common tourist invariably chooses this time to stroll the streets for their souvenir-shopping, newspaper or sightseeing, only to find the shops closed and the streets empty…

La siesta literally translates as a short nap of 15-30 minutes. However, this definition is far from the 3 hour break taken in the middle of the working day. Siesta has spread all over Spain, South America, the Philippines, the Middle East and North Africa. La siesta is a necessity and the reason is that around 2pm, the heat temperature reaches its peak and it is simply too hot to be outside. Hence the locals take a siesta and wait in the comfort of their own homes for the heat to subside.

However, this is not always the case. In areas such as Northern Spain, Southern Argentina and Chile where the heat doesn't always warrant such evasive action, la siesta has gone from being a necessity to a luxury and even a habit. Because the working day is broken up, the modern siesta is the time working people go home and spend time with their family or friends, and not necessarily take a nap. Often, families will use it as a time to have a long family lunch.

Some theorists date the origin of la siesta back to the Spanish Civil War. The war brought extreme poverty to many Spaniards, meaning they were forced to have mutiple jobs. It has been argued that the siesta was the period during which they had to eat their late lunch, due to their unusual working hours. However, whatever the origins of la siesta, it is now as firmly established in the Spanish psyche as flamenco and fiesta, and is a habit that may be difficult to break. La siesta is one of the strongest Spanish traditions, and most probably, one of the easiest to embrace as a foreigner…

How to Sleep a Siesta

To fully enjoy a siesta it is very important to have a good lunch with friends or/and relatives.

  1. The real siesta takes place in bed and in pyjamas, but a comfortable sofa is also fine if no bed is available.
  2. Timing is very important. A siesta should last between 15-30 minutes, no more.
  3. Don't let anything disturb you. The siesta is a very serious business. Some people can't enjoy a siesta unless the TV or radio is on. If these kind of things help you to fall asleep, use them.
  4. Silence all telephones, but don’t forget to set an alarm!