The fascist roots of Spain’s siesta

BY newsdesk  September 29, 2013 at 1:40 PM EDT

Dining after 9 p.m. is the norm in Spain — and many have come to expect that stores and businesses are shuttered in the late afternoon in towns from Barcelona to Bilbao. Indeed, the siesta might seem like a Spanish tradition with roots in the truly distant past.

But, according to The Guardian, it’s really just a very long hangover from Spanish dictator Franco’s fascist reign.

To show accord with Hitler’s Reich, Franco changed the country’s time zone in 1942 so Spain would mirror that of Germany. And the clocks have never been put back.

Today, there’s a movement in Spain to change the time and “rationalize” official work hours to a more standard nine-to-five.

Such a change might mean forgoing mid-morning coffee breaks and the two-hour afternoon lunch siesta– but could also mean earlier bedtimes for Spanish workers, who tend to sleep less than the World Health Organization recommends.