Aniline Maury offers a series of 5 analyzes to discover the main features. But also less obvious aspects – of the Spanish character. Daily life and of the codes of the world of work and business. Third episode: “Daily life: enthusiasm and relaxation”.
To write an article on daily life in Spain is not to write a treatise on paleoanthropology on the man of Mongo. Daily life in Europe, and much of the western world. Much the same because the activity and occupations of humans are, in general. Very similar and tend to look more and more alike in the light of reigning globalization. The real differences are in the nuances, sometimes subtle, sometimes more marked. In the vital attitude and in certain customs that this article will try to outline.
Each day brings its eagerness
If the first dialectical precaution placed us on a “macro” level there is a second which is of a “micro” nature. According to which one cannot approach “daily life in Spain” as a unit. Because the modes and forms of life certainly vary as much. In small as in big things. Depending on whether we are talking about the rural world, the feminine world. The world of the arts or all the sub-groups or categories that we might have time to observe.
Extended days (daily)
And since everyday life relates, etymologically, to “the way people act. Feel and think every day, or during a 24-hour cycle” (Wikipedia) our first point of the analysis is the length of a day in Spain. Although the exact length of the sidereal day is 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.09 seconds worldwide. The days seem infinitely longer in Spain. This is a crucial characteristic because this apparent dilation of time determines the number of occupations and activities possible. And consequently the way of living them as well as the tempo to follow. It goes without saying that this extended duration is possible thanks to the almost generalized reduction in sleep time. Which is not a very worrying affair either since it is practically always possible in Spain.
This is due to the timetables that have become established in Spain over the years. Which are downright baffling for foreigners and tourists. Even if the day starts between 8 and 9 a.m. The lunch break does not arrive until around 2 p.m. and, apart from many administrations. For banks and multinational subsidiaries, a break of about two hours splits the day. This gap is more than an interruption because of the resumption of work. Around 4 pm is done under a completely different sign. The state of mind in which we “come back to life”.
In the afternoon is nothing like that morning hours, whether you work or not. This is, typically, one of those subtleties discussed above. It would seem in Spain that the important things are done in the morning and that. Even for working people, the afternoon marks another rhythm. Paradoxically, this change of pace would seem to be the common consequence of two opposing circumstances. An almost Shakespearean dichotomy: to have or not to have slept a nap.
Nap and performance (Daily)
The nap, which is wrongly associated with laziness, has according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism the ability to restore immunological and neuroendocrine indicators to their optimal level. This is all the more important if you have slept little – which is common in Spain. As if you had to express life as much as possible. It is also if you have to be calm. Another five, six, or seven good hours!. So if an individual has the opportunity to sleep a nap -30 minutes is often sufficient. He will find momentum. In other countries runs out of steam around 7 or 8 p.m. never to leave again. Or rarely enough for a short delay. If on the contrary, he was unable to sleep a nap. While having had a good break in the middle of the day.
All this with the aim of not going to bed too early. Which is only good for the sick and the elderly. Since even children are up until hours often incompatible with good academic performance. Ultimately, it really starts to be late in Spain, on weekdays, around 11 pm. But not very late, let’s not exaggerate! Tourists who come for the first time are often flabbergasted that they cannot have lunch. Before 1.30 pm – “la cocaine eats corrode” – and not be able to dine at 7 pm. The hitch is practically the end of the afternoon tea time. Admittedly, the trait is not so marked in the big cities where all kinds of establishments. Nowadays serve almost any type of meal at any time of the day. However, if you want to mingle with the Spaniards,.
Schedules for all tastes (Daily)
This hourly regime is far from uniform, which is also a characteristic of daily life in Spain and which is far from simplifying matters. In particular, for the reconciliation of professional and personal life, many families have to juggle childcare during the afternoons since schools close, at the latest, at 5 p.m.. when working parents have barely returned work.
The role of grandparents is, in many cases, very important to overcome these discrepancies and more and more, as in the rest of European countries, it is necessary to call in external assistance, nanny or other, while waiting for tablets and other screens can take over.
On the other hand, the hours of banks and public administrations are different from the hours of shops, which in turn vary depending on whether it is a small business or a large one, and whether one is in a large town, a medium-sized town, or a village, in a more or less touristy region, of seasonal or stationary tourism, whether in summer or in winter …
This imbroglio is relatively simplified in summer, when many companies radically modify their schedules and only work in the morning, thus aligning themselves with banks and administrations. “It’s too hot to work” then extends to the Pyrenees. The Spaniards find their way there perfectly, even if the whole thing is not necessarily to their liking.
Timeshare, dating, and gossip
As for the course of “normal” daily life. There are not really any specific characteristics of Spain to report. We get up, we go about our business, we take care of our loved ones if necessary. And if it’s not too complicated, we save time if we can for our friends and for ourselves … in short. A bit like everywhere else. It is true that in Spain the contact with others and the assiduity of exchanges and time-sharing with friends. Acquaintances are quite high, even on a daily basis.
We obviously cannot see our friends every day. But the links that weave social networks are more present than in other more “individualistic” countries. Spaniards are eminently social and take an interest in the daily life of their loved ones. But also that of the members of their community. As such, it is surprising to observe how much they follow the news that concerns national (or even international) celebrities as if they were people around them.
Cotillo, which is called gossip in English and gossip in French. Without pejorative connotation, is a constant of life in Spain. The best-selling magazines and the most followed national series prove how close the daily life of complete strangers is to them. This is not a generality, of course, but it is a very widespread trait. We could sum up by saying that we feel more curiosity for others in Spain than in France, for example. And conversations in everyday settings can easily turn into the minute details of other people’s lives.
One would tend to believe that the daily life of a large part of the Spanish population is lived through the apparently more exciting – or scandalous – lives of people who are talked about everywhere.
Tapas and zest
Finally, we cannot avoid mentioning food as the basis of everyday life in Spain at all levels. It is certain that the interest in food is not a heritage of Spain and that we must think about it. And provide for it wherever there are humans. But the omnipresence, the diversity, the color, the joy and the joy that characterize the relationship of the Spaniards to their gastronomy and their “appointments” with the table are striking. Just look at the incredible variety of tapas existing ones and the imagination to continually create new ones.
Walk into a bistro in France mid-morning, and with a little luck, there will be a few hard-boiled eggs perched on their rack. Do the same in Spain and it is very likely that you will spoil for choice when it comes to calming a little craving.
Ultimately, everyday life in Spain is, as in other Mediterranean countries, a mixture of obligations and pleasures. Restlessness and relaxation, work and leisure, families, and friends.
The climate, a rather carefree nature. A sense of immediacy halfway between fatalism and playfulness and unusually long days make life rather lively. Despite the constraints and adversities … and fatigue!