Monday, September 25

Does it make sense that on Sunday we eat at five and go to bed on Monday at one?

Beach walk, a summer afternoon. It’s half past five and a waiter is serving baked fish to a couple, both of them very blond. Swedes, Germans? That question is not so much as this other: are they eating or are they having dinner? If they were Spanish, it would almost certainly be a late meal, but being foreigners, it is most likely that they are eating dinner. As soon? For us, yes; for the rest of Europe it is a normal schedule. From the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Schedules (ARHOE) they have been preaching for almost twenty years… with modest success until now. José Luis Casero, president of ARHOE, reviews the Spanish customs that take us several hours away from our European neighbors.

Who needs two hours to eat?

It is probably the issue that distances us the most: the desktop. But from Monday to Friday it doesn’t make sense, according to José Luis Casero. “Two hours… for what? How much better to have lunch in forty minutes and earn that hour and a half to leave earlier in the afternoon».

The proposal: From ARHOE they are committed to shortening the lunch hour and eating “between one and two in the afternoon”.

Goodbye to late Sunday lunch?

Once we have changed the habit during the week, yes. “It cannot be that we eat on Sunday at four and on Monday at one, we must ensure that there is no such gap.”

The proposal: Eat “at two” on the weekend.

Late night character

Numerous studies indicate us as one of the most time-consuming countries. “We slept approximately one hour less than the rest of the Europeans”, gives the data the president of ARHOE. In fact, ask and it won’t be uncommon for more than one person to tell you that they go to bed after midnight. “The problem is that we wake up almost as early as other countries that go to bed earlier.”

The proposal: Go to bed “between eleven and eleven thirty at night.”

The controversial schedule of ‘prime time’

And why do we go to bed so late? “Because at midnight there are millions of people glued to the television.” Although many people already consume television on demand, without having to submit to the schedules set by advertising, generalist televisions continue to maintain a late ‘prime time’ (maximum audience time). «In Spain, the most watched programs and series start at the time they end in Europe. That they start at half past ten is almost a luxury, because rather they do it shortly before eleven and it lasts until one». Thus, recalls José Luis Casero, “there are no ‘late night’ type programs that are typical of midnight and beyond”. Regarding this, he gives a more worrying fact than that of late-night adults: “There are half a million kids under the age of 14 watching TV every day after eleven o’clock and that’s outrageous.” The ‘prime time’ thing seems like a fruitless fight, but Casero says it’s a matter of will. “Look at the Champions League games, they start at nine because that’s European time. If it were up to us, surely they would start at half past ten».

The proposal: That prime time “begin at a quarter to ten and end at half past ten.”

You really can’t come to work after nine?

From ARHOE they do not understand the meaning of “so much rigidity” in the hours of entry to work. «Each person has his circumstances, but we are all forced to be in the office between eight and nine. There is no flexibility, and that is always bad.

The proposal: Flexible hours of entry to work «between seven and ten in the morning».

get off work at night

In the same way that from ARHOE they demand more flexibility when it comes to clocking in the morning, they demand more ‘rigidity’ in the departure time. «In Europe there is no one working in an office at seven in the evening, but here it is the norm. Obviously there are professions in which it is not possible to leave early in the afternoon: shops, hotels… journalists who have to cover an appearance by the politician on duty at eight or nine at night. It’s awful. Can’t they do it at nine in the morning? Another question: «There are children who at ten o’clock at night are still waiting for their parents to come home. We are leaving them the last and worst time of the day.

The proposal: Leave work “at five in the afternoon”.

One hour less in the Canary Islands

It is not only that in the Canary Islands, having an hour less, the news and the successful series start at a more European hour. “It is also a matter of character and custom,” says José Luis Casero, president of ARHOE. «There they work at a different rhythm, they have a different culture installed. It also has to do with the fact that they receive a lot of foreign tourism and when northern Europeans come to Spain for the summer they do not adapt to our schedules, but continue to have lunch at one in the afternoon”, recalls the expert. So these “crazy schedules” that we have in Spain do not have so much to do with latitude. «When we talk about European timetables it seems that we always look north, to Sweden, to Germany… But in Portugal they also have them, or at least they are much more similar to them than we are». That we are the exception is confirmed, Casero warns, «when you travel the world and at breakfast time in hotels, the only ones who come down at nine o’clock are the Spanish. The rest have had breakfast before.

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