The Real Reason Spaniards Stay Up Late

WORLD

Many travelers believe Spain’s late mealtimes are a reflection of the country’s laid-back attitude, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. (BBC)

Map the reason why Spain stays up late.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit, including today’s MapMaker Interactive layer and fun poll.

Later working hours force Spaniards to save their social lives for the evening. Prime-time television doesn’t start until 10:30pm. Here, friends celebrate an engagement at the Plaza Santa Anna in Madrid.
Photograph by Maggie Steber, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • Why does the BBC article claim Spain is in “the wrong time zone”?
    • Glance at a map and you’ll realize that Spain—sitting, as it does, along the same longitude as the UK, Portugal, and Morocco—should be in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). But Spain goes by Central European Time (CET), putting it in sync with the Serbian capital Belgrade, more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) east of Madrid.”

 

  • Why doesn’t Spain follow GMT?
    • Nazis. Spain did follow GMT, until the Nationalist victory of General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, Franco changed Spain’s time zone, moving the clocks forward one hour in solidarity with his Nazi allies in (Central European Time) Germany. Spanish citizens “continued to eat at the same time, but because the clocks had changed, their 1pm lunches became 2pm lunches, and they were suddenly eating their 8pm dinners at 9pm.”

 

  • Last year, Spain began public discussions about returning to its pre-war GMT time zone. What are the major reasons people support the change?
    • increased productivity.The typical Spanish work day begins at 9am; after a two-hour lunch break between 2 and 4pm, employees return to work, ending their day around 8pm. The later working hours force Spaniards to save their social lives for the late hours. Prime-time television doesn’t start until 10:30pm.”
    • a healthier population, mostly from increased sleep.The fact that the time in Spain doesn’t correspond to the sun affects health, especially sleep,” said one supporter of the time change. “If we changed time zones, the sun would rise one hour earlier and we’d wake up more naturally, meal times would be one hour earlier and we’d get an extra hour’s sleep.”

 

  • How have Spaniards adapted to such ridiculously late hours?
    • Traditionally, Spanish workers have taken two-hour lunch breaks, which are supposed to give them time to enjoy a mid-afternoon nap, or siesta.
      • In reality, few Spaniards (fewer than 18%) regularly take a siesta.

 

  • What is the leading reason people give to stay on Central European Time?
    • the tourist economy. Tourism is Spain’s most lucrative industry, and trails only France and the United States in the world. It accounts for 11% of the country’s GDP and employs about 2 million people. So what does time have to do with that powerhouse financial force?
      • “Being 60 minutes behind the correct time zone means the sun rises later and sets later, bestowing Spain with gloriously long summer evenings and 10pm sunsets. Those who run Spain’s tourist resorts believe that more sunlight is a large draw for visitors.”

 

  • Take a look at today’s MapMaker Interactive map layer, on world time zones. Besides Spain, are there any other countries that appear to be in the “wrong” time zone?
    • Yes, lots. Time zones, unlike the longitudes on which they’re based, are entirely social, not mathematical, constructs. For example:
      • Islands bracketing the international date line are oddly blocked out. These include Kiribati, Samoa, and even the U.S. state of Alaska, whose far-flung Aleutian Islands could be a day earlier than the rest of the nation if they followed the “right” time zone.
      • Argentina’s single time zone is more aligned with eastern South America than the central zone into which it geographically falls. (Like Spain, Argentines have developed a late-night culture.)
      • Iceland and the Cape Verde Islands follow GMT instead of what would probably be their own time zone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
      • Many countries in Asia, including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, follow single, national time zones. The great big country of China, for instance, could geographically follow five time zones. It only recognizes only one.

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

BBC: The real reason why Spaniards eat late

Nat Geo: World Time Zones map

2 responses to “The Real Reason Spaniards Stay Up Late

  1. I’m an American, living in America; I don’t live in Spain. Spaniards? Eat meals whenever you bloody well wish. If ever I visit Spain, I’ve got no probs with dining at 9 p.m.

    Like

  2. Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone. From: Nat Geo Education BlogSent: Tuesday, 9 May 2017 13:08To: almudena.maneiro@gmail.comReply To: Nat Geo Education BlogSubject: [New post] The Real Reason Spaniards Stay Up Late

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    carylsue posted: “WORLD

    Many travelers believe Spain’s late mealtimes are a reflection of the country’s laid-back attitude, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. (BBC)

    Map the reason why Spain stays up late.

    Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources”

    Like

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