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Spain might be saying ‘adios’ to the siesta

The time-honored tradition of taking a nap, or siesta, in Spain might be going by the wayside if some politicians get their way.

The siesta dates back to the time when rural workers took breaks during the hottest part of the day. Now with longer work hours, less reliance on agriculture and a possible time zone change, the midday Zs may have seen their last, according to the Associated Press.

Currently, Spain’s workday is from 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with two hours for lunch and a half hour to an hour siesta. A new proposal making the workday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no siesta would bring Spain in line with other European nations.

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is proposing the change, told the AP it would benefit families. “To be concrete, we are going to lengthen the time that people can take off work to look after their children in large families. We are giving (these changes) to stimulate work from home and we are going to work hard to come to a consensus to achieve a working day which in general ends at 6 o’clock in the evening.”

According to Nuria Chinchilla, a professor in the Managing People in Organizations Department at Madrid’s University of Navarra, only 10 percent of Spaniards are actually taking a lunch break because students are in school till 2:30 p.m.

“The siesta is not a reality anymore, so this was in agricultural times and before the Civil War, too. Maybe (it happens) in the villages with agricultural people but not in the cities and not for sure in Barcelona or Madrid where nobody is going back home to have lunch,” Chinchilla told the AP.

Until the 1940s, Spain was on the same Greenwich Mean Time as Britain and Portugal. During World War II, Spain and other countries added on an hour to sync with Nazi Germany so that factory workers could get home before the blackouts, according to the AP. While others reverted back after the war, Spain never did.

Rajoy’s proposal also would change Spain back to its original time zone. Rajoy said he will seek to put these changes in place if he is able to form a government coalition.

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