A French guy, a German guy and an English guy walk into a bar and talk about how lazy the Spanish are.
While this may seem like a joke, there’s nothing funny about napping Spaniards to the European Union, which is officially recommending that Spain give up its siesta.
The siesta has been a part of Spanish culture for hundreds of years and was reintroduced to the country following its civil war. To those who don’t know, the siesta is a nationwide practice in Spain lasting for approximately three hours in the afternoon. Businesses shut down and workers enjoy naps, long lunches and wine.
In an effort to end this practice, the European Union formed possibly the most boring commission ever conceived by man: The National Commission for Rationalization of Spanish Work Schedules and Normalization with Those of Other Countries of the European Union.
The panel was quick to point out that studies show a correlation between the siesta and low productivity rates, low grades and fewer opportunities for career advancement. Members of the board stopped just short of blaming the siesta for global warming and the assassination of John F. Kennedy but we all know they wanted to.
Obviously, when you’re talking strictly in terms of worker productivity, output and profit, it seems absurd that an entire country simply chooses not to do anything in the hours of the early afternoon.
But the siesta provides for a relaxing break in the middle of the day and improves the quality of life for workers who participate in it.
Spain is considered one of the most healthful countries in the world because its environment is good and because life goes on at a more leisurely pace, largely because of the siesta. Despite this, it looks like the already declining siesta may soon be a thing of the past in Spain. But all hope is not yet lost.
Together, we can protect this glorious practice by importing it to the United States.
Think about it. The siesta would revolutionize the way we live. For example, Americans are among the most stressed people in the world. A 2000 Gallup poll conducted on workplace environments found that 80 percent of Americans feel stressed at their jobs.
In this country, we often view taking a regular job as a punishment, and we feel imprisoned by our employment. The siesta would limit job stress and dissatisfaction by giving working adults a socially acceptable excuse to consume wine and take a nap in the afternoon.
In addition, Americans don’t get enough sleep. This is not simply just a matter of being a little more tired during the day. Rather, it is a danger. Falling asleep at the wheel is the second leading cause of death in car accidents, drunk driving being the first. Students during finals week know the value of even a short 20-minute “power nap” and how much less tired they are later as a result. Who would think that kindergarteners, the one group that doesn’t want naptime, are the only ones to benefit from napping?
The incorporation of the siesta into American life would also be a brilliant public relations move on the part of the United States. If we adopt this idea, far fewer countries would view us as the puritanical zealots that we sometimes have a reputation for being. The world would certainly become a more hospitable place for us if they saw us spending our time eating together and drinking instead of our current national pastime, which tends to involve debating which groups are going to hell and which ones aren’t.
Of course, productivity would decrease and our gross domestic product would decrease as well. But what is the point in having the world’s most massive economy if we’re too busy working to enjoy it?
Spain is still a world economic power, and it doesn’t need to be working 9-to-5 to keep it that way.
While a great many Americans are out there working themselves to death and insanity, we, those who believe in the power of siesta, can be happy drinking a good Spanish wine, taking in a bullfight or two and then resting with our three-hour long naps.
Sam MoreyThe Pitt News,University of Pittsburgh.