The History of the Siesta, plus a Summer Recipe

The hot weather recently made us think of the history and origins of the siesta and how it evolved.

The word siesta in Spanish means nap, but it comes from the Latin hora sexta – the sixth hour (from dawn, traditionally).

The siesta as we know it originated in Spain, but the custom was practiced by the Romans and numerous other countries where the midday heat made it too hot to work. After the Spanish Civil War, many people had to work two jobs to survive, so the hours between 2:00 and 4:00pm became a time to eat and rest before going the their second job. This time period is still characteristic of Spain, although the standard 20-30 minute custom of taking a nap is diminishing.

But the tradition lives on! In the U.S. and other countries the idea of the power nap has taken hold. The power nap, about 20 minutes long, can restore alertness and reverse the impact of a poor night’s sleep. A university study found better memory recall after a short period of sleep. Studies have shown that limiting your siesta to under 45 minutes is the optimal period for a nap, otherwise you may drift into deep sleep which is when you wake up groggy for a while.

Since the long lunch period is still a tradition in Spain and it’s been so hot, here’s a recipe for Gazpacho, the Andalusian cold vegetable soup, perfect for a summer’s day.

If you’re trying to avoid the heat (or the cold, rain or snow), a perfect way to spend time indoors is learning Spanish. Contact Luminoso Language Services to learn more.