Spanish Siestas May End Due to Economic Crisis

A traditional Spanish custom known as the siesta may soon end due to the country's poor economy. Reports state that the entire country is cutting back on indulgences in an effort to maintain an economy that has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.

The siesta, or traditional afternoon nap, generally follows the largest meal of the day for Spaniards. Instead of the 9-to-5 shifts, the country runs on a 9-to-8 schedule, with a long lunch and siesta factored in. Yet more and more companies are encouraging frugality during the tough economic times, and those who cater to the lunch crowd have to cut back as a response.

"The crisis has hit citizens so hard that people haven't had any choice but to get over the embarrassment of taking food to work, and once someone has lost the shame factor, it makes it easy for everyone else," restaurant owner Rogelio Barahona told Reuters.

While it may be good for individuals and families to save, it also has the effect of hurting small businesses and restaurants that thrive on the lunch crowd to sustain them. According to Barahona, his restaurant alone has lost nearly 50 percent of sales due to the crisis.

Even children are being affected, as more parents send their kids to school with lunch rather than having them eat the school lunch, which may cost up to 150 euros. It's a change that some schools are not pleased with, and some have even banned lunches brought from home, instead requiring parents to pick up their children for lunch.

"There's a risk that the kids start to change their eating habits, because in Spain we eat a big lunch at midday with a lighter supper," explained Eloisa Hurtado, a mother of two. "The Tupperware lunch is turning meal times on its head and that's an important change for our culinary culture."