During the 60’s there was a motto that made Spain incredibly popular with foreigners: “Spain is different”. And when we look at some of the customs such as the famous “siesta”, putting olive oil on absolutely everything or having lunch and dinner incredibly late, you realize that this motto keeps on defining the country pretty well. But… is there an explanation for this? In this post we will try to solve the last mystery mentioned: Why do we wait until 15:00 or even later to start having lunch? How is it possible that you can walk into a restaurant at 22:00 to have dinner and, if popular, it will probably be booked out?
The main reason is that we are not in the time zone that corresponds to us geographically. (Check our blog post Facts about Spain: Time zone background)
Another reason is that our dietary habits are influenced by the sun, even though our clocks say something totally different. The moment in which the sun is highest, that is, at 12 noon according to the solar time, Spanish clocks mark 13:30. According to this, in Spain we eat between 13:00 and 14:00 (solar time) and we have dinner at 20.30. This does not differ much with the rest European countries, but in real clocks this means having lunch between 14:30 and 15:30 and dinner at 22:00.
Almost all of our activities happen two hours later than in the rest of countries.
But… what are the consequences of this?
Not only does it deprive us from sleep, but it also makes it harder to reconcile our work and personal life. While in the rest of Europe people usually take 45 minutes to have lunch, we take up to 2 hours (and begin later!). This translates into more difficulties when it comes to organizing meeting with people abroad and leaving the office quite late, as well as having less time in the evening for personal matters.
Going back to our normal time zone would definitely help solve this issue… but meanwhile, we just have to accept the fact that Spain is different. Lunch is a big party every day, dinners are the perfect excuse to stay out for drinks and even though we might be a bit tired… we are lively people who make the most of each moment of the day!
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