Siestas Around the World

April 14, 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Kittie sleeping

Unsplash: Dan Gold

Spain...the land of Bullfighting, Tapas, and Soccer -I mean Futbol- and let’s not forget about Siesta! But what is Siesta? Siesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon after a heavy meal. The term comes from the latin phrase, hora sexta, meaning the sixth hour after dawn. The tradition of siesta is usually observed in countries with warmer climates.

Fun fact, did you know that the idea behind siesta did not originate from Spain but from Italy? After a morning’s worth of work, at the sixth hour of the day, the Romans stopped to take a break, to eat, and to rest, away from the scorching sun. The workers then returned to work in the evening, when the weather was cooler, refreshed and re-energized. Despite its Roman origins, the Spaniards benefited from siesta after the Civil War in the 1930s, giving people a break when working their two jobs.

Another fun fact, the mayor of Ador, a small town in Valencia, made a decree that its citizens have a right to an afternoon nap. The entire town of Ador is closed from 2 pm to 5 pm, giving its residents a time to get their beauty rest. Noise is kept to a minimum. Tourists are encouraged to observe the ruling. And parents are advised to keep their munchkins indoors. Unfortunately, many Spaniards today hardly get their forty winks due to various reasons like long job commutes and long office work hours.

Nevertheless, siesta is still embraced in other parts of the world like in Greece, Italy, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Kalo Mesimeri in Greece(Have a good lunch and nice siesta)

Siesta is a sacred tradition in Greek culture. So sacred that a law called the “Hours of Common Silence” was written back then. Nowadays, siesta is less common in the touristy parts of Greece but it doesn’t mean that the Greeks have forgotten its existence. If ever in Greece, savor those kolokithokeftedes, have one or three baklavas, embrace siesta, and enjoy the long summer nights!

Riposo in Italy

In Italy siesta is known as riposo. Shops are closed midday for three hours or so, that way Italians get to go home, rest, and be with family. Riposo to Italians means enjoying a home cooked meal and spending time with family. Nothing beats the summer heat than laughter and being in the company of the people you love. Are you ready for siesta, Italian style?

Siesta in Nigeria

Nigerians are up early in the morning for work, home late at night, and stuck in traffic in between. As a result, sleep is affected which can have some adverse effects on health. But Nigerians have adapted the practice of siesta which helps them take a break and get some rest after a busy workday. Psst, it is even proven that a nap or two reduces stress and improves memory.

Idlip in the Philippines (short nap)

Filipinos inherited the tradition of siesta from the Spaniards. Siesta or as some Filipinos call it idlip–short nap–is something that many Filipinos proudly take part in. Filipino adults and children still embrace the tradition of siesta whether it be after a fiesta or just an idlip after a long morning, because why not. Besides, who doesn’t need a few z’s?

The world is always busy, always bustling, ready for a new beginning. But before you take that extra step, have a siesta. I promise you, when you wake up from that quick slumber, you will be feeling easy, breezy, and more ready to take on the world!

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