A Brief History of the Siesta

Summer’s here and there’s a heat wave to go with it so we thought this post should be about the Siesta, which originated in Greek or Roman times as a way to escape the intense midday heat around the Mediterranean. These civilizations had a custom called the sixth hour rest, taken at the hottest part of the day.

The word Siesta comes from the Spanish word for sixth – sexta, and now means nap. As the Spanish influence spread into Latin America the idea of the Siesta has taken hold throughout the world. After the Spanish Civil War, many people had to work two jobs to survive, and the hours between 4:00pm and 6:00pm became a time to eat and rest before heading out to a second job. 

This time period is still characteristic of Spain, although the standard 20-30 minute custom of taking a nap is diminishing as more Western-style working hours take hold.

But the tradition in other forms 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.

Stay out of the sun and heat and learn Spanish this summer with our online personal lessons. Click HERE for more information.

Happy New Year! (¡Feliz año nuevo!)


Now that the fireworks and champagne toasts are done, we at Luminoso Language Services thought we would let you know of some Latino and Spanish traditions for New Years Eve.

A tradition that originated in Spain and is celebrated in many South and Central American countries is burning out the old year to get rid of negative karma from the past year. In some countries, the tradition is to write down the negatives on a piece of paper and burn it; in others people make or buy effigies to burn at midnight.

Another Spanish tradition widely followed in the Americas is eating 12 grapes at midnight – one grape for good luck for each month of the year. You can also make wishes on each grape. This tradition started in Spain in 1895 when grape farmers wanted to sell an over-abundance of grapes.

If you want to travel, people in Venezuela and Colombia believe that walking around the block with a suitcase will increase their chances of travel in the new year. To travel a person needs money, right? In Ecuador celebrants hide money around the house to bring prosperity, in other areas, people put money in their shoes.

What better way to make a clean sweep of the past year than cleaning your house? Families clean their houses so they are spotless by New Year’s Eve.

An ancient Roman tradition was to put lentils in their purses with the hope that they would turn to gold. Lentils are a symbol of of prosperity, so this tradition has translated into eating a bowl of lentils at midnight, or planting or putting lentils in your pocket to keep your finances straight in the coming year.

Windows are symbolic of fresh air, so two traditions that exploit that are: throwing last year’s calendar or a cup of water out the window. If it’s the water, the cup should be carried around the house to collect the bad vibes before it’s tossed.

And finally, your underwear matters! Wearing the following colored underwear on New Years Eve will attract:

  • Red: Attracts love, romance, and passion.
  • Yellow: Attracts money, prosperity, abundance, and financial stability into your life.
  • White: Represents peace, harmony, and calmness.
  • Black: Associated with luxury, power, and sexuality.
  • Green: The color of health, good luck, and protection. Wear them for all-around good fortune!
  • Blue: Believed to bring balance and stability. Good for making that elusive personal project come to life or getting that job you always wanted.

Imagine if you layered them and wore them all what a great year you would have!

Contact us to start you New Year with personal, online Spanish lessons

Feliz Año Nuevo from Luminoso Educational Services!

El Día de Muertos/The Day of the Dead

El Día de Muertos es una celebración tradicional mexicana y en general mesoamericana que honra a los muertos. Tiene lugar los días 1 y 2 de noviembre y está vinculada a las celebraciones católicas de Día de los Fieles Difuntos y Todos los Santos.

Es una festividad que se celebra en México y en menor grado en países de América Central, así como en muchas comunidades de los Estados Unidos, donde existe una gran población mexicana. En el 2008 la Unesco declaró la festividad como Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de la Humanidad de México.

El paso de la vida a la muerte es un momento emblemático que ha causado admiración, temor e incertidumbre al ser humano a través de la historia. Por muchos años, en diversas culturas se han generado creencias en torno a la muerte que han logrado desarrollar toda una serie de ritos y tradiciones ya sea para venerarla, honrarla, espantarla e incluso para burlarse de ella. México es un país rico en cultura y tradiciones; uno de los principales aspectos que conforman su identidad como nación es la concepción que se tiene sobre la vida, la muerte y todas las tradiciones y creencias que giran en torno a ellas.

Festividades que se consideran precursoras del Día de Muertos en México son anteriores a la llegada de los españoles. Hay registro de celebraciones en las etnias mexica, maya, purépecha y totonaca. Los rituales que celebran la vida de los ancestros se realizan en estas civilizaciones desde la época precolombina. Entre los pueblos prehispánicos era común la práctica de conservar los cráneos como trofeos y mostrarlos durante los rituales que simbolizaban la muerte. No obstante, la antropóloga Elsa Malvido ha cuestionado la explicación del origen prehispánico del Día de muertos, destacando la continuidad de tradiciones surgidas en la Europa medieval.

Hay que destacar que esta celebración no es propia de todos los mexicanos puesto que, pese a ser una fiesta que se ha convertido en un símbolo nacional y que como tal es enseñada (con fines educativos) en las escuelas del país, existen muchas familias que son más apegadas a celebrar el “Día de todos los Santos” como lo hacen en otros países católicos. Además, cabe mencionar la fuerte influencia de los Estados Unidos que, al menos en zonas fronterizas, se evidencia con la presencia de la fiesta conocida como Halloween, la cual se celebra cada año con más frecuencia y en un mayor número de hogares. De ahí también que exista una inquietud entre los propios mexicanos de querer preservar el Día de Muertos como parte de la cultura mexicana sobre otras celebraciones parecidas.

The Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican and generally Mesoamerican celebration that honors the dead. It takes place on November 1 and 2 and is linked to the Catholic celebrations of Day of the Faithful and All Saints.

It is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and to a lesser extent in Central American countries, as well as in many communities in the United States, where there is a large Mexican population. In 2008, Unesco declared the festival as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Mexico.

The passage from life to death is an emblematic moment that has caused admiration, fear and uncertainty to people throughout history. For many years, beliefs about death have been generated in various cultures that have managed to develop a whole series of rites and traditions to venerate, honor, scare and even make fun of her. Mexico is a country rich in culture and traditions; One of the main aspects that make up its identity as a nation is the conception of life, death and all the traditions and beliefs that revolve around them.

Festivities that are considered precursors of the Day of the Dead in Mexico are prior to the arrival of the Spanish. There is a record of celebrations in the Mexican, Mayan, Purépecha and Totonaca ethnic groups. The rituals that celebrate the life of the ancestors are performed in these civilizations since pre-Columbian times. The practice of preserving skulls as trophies and displaying them during rituals symbolizing death was common among pre-Hispanic peoples. However, the anthropologist Elsa Malvido has questioned the explanation of the pre-Hispanic origin of the Day of the Dead, highlighting the continuity of traditions that emerged in medieval Europe.

It should be noted that this celebration is not typical of all Mexicans since, despite being a holiday that has become a national symbol and that as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the country’s schools, there are many families that they are more attached to celebrating “All Saints’ Day” as they do in other Catholic countries. In addition, it is worth mentioning the strong influence of the United States that, at least in border areas, is evidenced by the presence of Halloween, which is celebrated every year more frequently and in a greater number of homes. Hence also there is a concern among Mexicans themselves of wanting to preserve the Day of the Dead as part of Mexican culture over other similar celebrations.

Hablar otro idioma hace que tu cerebro sea más eficiente/Speaking Another Language Makes Your Brain More Efficient

En los últimos años, los científicos cognitivos y sus familiares han acumulado una gran cantidad de trabajo en torno a la “ventaja bilingüe”. Una y otra vez, los bilingües obtienen mejores resultados en las medidas de “control cognitivo” y “funcionamiento ejecutivo”, los procesos mediante los cuales su cerebro deja de lado las respuestas automáticas a los estímulos, que sus pares con una sola lengua.

Lee la historia completa aquí

Contáctenos para clases integrales de español para usted, su empresa o su familia.

Over the past several years, cognitive scientists and their kin have amassed a body of work around the “bilingual advantage.” Time and again, bilinguals do better on measures of “cognitive control” and “executive functioning” — the processes by which your brain sidesteps knee-jerk, automatic responses to stimuli — than their single-tongued peers.

Read the full story here

Contact us for comprehensive lessons in Spanish for you, your company or your family.