Is Spain Ready to Stay Awake?
There is more to Spain than paella, Nadal and bullfighting: flamenco, Picasso and Zara, for instance. But nothing typifies the entire Iberian ethos better than siesta, that three-hour hibernation from the excesses of the midday sun. So, sceptic Spaniards can be forgiven if they espy the dour hand of EU homogenisation behind the suggestion made by their Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at his party conference to forgo the traditional midday nap time in favour of a workday more in line with the rest of Europe. This attempt to set aside a quintessentially Spanish tradition at a time when cultural issues have become flashpoints on that continent is curiously quixotic. Especially since siesta had been put on notice at least twice before in the name of improving the business atmosphere but could not be banished. Admittedly, nodding off when London, Berlin or New York are abuzz must prove costly, but 40 winks are not all that bad. Seasoned practitioners of this art of power napping can justifiably point to a study just last month that found a link between siesta and lowered risk of hypertension, not to mention several older reports suggesting less incidence of heart disease too. With the mayor of a town in eastern Spain declaring siesta mandatory just last July, before doing anything rash, Rajoy should sleep on it.