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José Carlos Redondo Martínez

Lengua Inglesa IV


Everyone sometimes has been tired enough to close their eyes for some minutes and
sleep and at that moment we let fly our imagination and we travel to a magic and
especial world: our dream’s world. This particular process, especially when it happens
after lunch time, is commonly now in Spain as siesta.

Siesta has its origin a long time ago, when Spain was mostly a rural country. Most of the
peasants and farmhands, after being working in the countryside the whole morning and
having taken the limited lunch they could have, used to have a nap for a while before
working the land again. Since those medieval times, siesta became a tradition installed
in all the Spanish families, a national symbol. It developed as a common Spanish
stereotype that everyone who thinks about our country rapidly associates it with siesta.
Of course, without any doubt, apart from fiesta (party), paella (delicious Mediterranean
rice with vegetables and meat or fish) and flamenco (typical dance from the south of
Spain), siesta is maybe one of the most famous words that our vocabulary has exported
beyond our boarders. It is like our personal impression and many countries in Europe
envy us because of those minutes of freedom we have after lunch time to sleep.

I am an university student and I have classes everyday from 9am to 2pm and from 4pm
to 6pm, and after finishing my meal I do not miss the chance to go to the sofa, relax for
a while and have a little siesta while I watch something on the TV. It really helps me to
go on with the rest of the day and charges my batteries. As I do, most of the Spanish
population does since it is a deeply rooted tradition. It is a bit of pleasure and rest during
the long working day.

Another relevant feature which has to do with siesta is the working hours. In many
European countries like United Kingdom, Germany or France the hours people work are
extremely different than in Spain. In our country, most of the shops and stores usually
close around 2pm and they keep closed until 4/4.30pm when they reopen. This stretch
of time gives time to people to go home, prepare their meals and, of course, have a little
relaxing siesta. I think that our European neighbours have another thing to envy us, not
only our gastronomy, not only our parties but our siesta too. I am pretty sure that they
would not hesitate to import it.

However, it has to be said that this tradition is losing power and influence, above all in
many of the big cities of Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia where many
people have the European timetable to work. This means that they can not go home,
have lunch and then siesta; they have to stay in their offices and have a sandwich or
whatever they have near in order to go on working in the firm without losing time. This
stratum of the society squares with most of the executives and business men who hardly
have time to eat. As we can see, the fact of having lunch is clearly close to the fact of
having a siesta. We can talk about a symbiosis in which once you have had your meal
you automatically, that is, like a robot that has an internal chip in his brain, settle
yourself in the sofa and have a placid and relaxing siesta. These two elements (lunch
and its consequent siesta) are joined.

Last week, while I was watching the second edition of the news (around 3pm
approximately) and before falling asleep, I paid attention to a report that said that many
doctors in Spain (almost 85%) state that to have a siesta is a very useful and very
healthy habit for our body. They highly recommended it to everyone. They also said that
there is no need to put on the pyjamas and go to bed to have it (as Camilo José Cela, one
of the most famous Spanish novel writers, once said); you just need to curl up on the
armchair or sofa and close your eyes. It really helps you to relax and to get away from
your daily problems for a while.

Siesta’s length is not well defined, it can vary from 10 minutes to even an hour or more,
it depends obviously on the free time we have before going to work. For instance, my
grandfather, who is retired, usually has one-hour long siestas. It does not matter if it is a
long deep siesta or just a short snooze; the most important thing is that it helps us to rest
and to release from our daily stress. Anyway, whether it is short or long, I invite you to
have a little siesta; you will not regret it, for sure!