The other day I was having a late lunch with one of the greek friends I made here in Raches. She mentioned needing to contact her dad, to which I said ̈go ahead, I don ́t mind if you make a phone call ̈.
This is the moment I learned how respected and treasured the siesta is in Greece. ̈I cannot call him now, it ́s siesta time.. anything can wait until after 5 or 6 in the afternoon. ̈ - was her reply. Having also lived in Spain in the past, where siesta is a huge deal as well, it got me wondering what these nations or cultures have in common to share this ritual, and why it ́s unheard of in countries like Romania, where I come from. How did this ritual start and why is it present in only some countries in the world?
Apparently, even though it is heavily associated with Spain, the siesta originates in Italy. It comes from the latin phrase ̈hora sexta ̈, the sixth hour after dawn. Back in the day, the Romans used to work until the sixth hour of the day, then stopped for food and rest, away from the very harsh sun. They would resume the work in the evening when the weather was cooler and more bearable for working.
Siesta is embraced in other parts of the world as well such as Nigeria, Philippines (Idlip = short nap) and Italy (riposo = rest). The common element between all these countries is the hot climate.
Temperatures up to 40 degrees make it impossible to work, especially in the sun (agriculture or farming), therefore a quick nap is the perfect solution to re-gain energy for later work but also to recover from lunch, which tends to be the biggest meal of the day.
Even if you rest for only 30 minutes, it can have amazing health benefits on your body such as lower blood pressure, increased concentration and productivity (all proven by studies!). I don ́t know about you, but as I am writing this, it ́s 2pm and my eyes are getting heavy.. a nap in the tree shade sounds heavenly.