Argentina is a region of deep and engrained culture. There is a quiet disposition that holds tradition at the heart of every home. One of the cherished parts of an Argentineans day is the time of Siesta. You may have heard of Siestas in passing, however if you have not experienced the ritual it is hard to fully understand. The word Siesta is stemmed from the Latin language. The Sixth hour is interpreted as “hora sexta”. As the day typically begins early with the sun, the sixth hour appears at lunchtime every day. The custom is contributed mostly to countries who are of Spanish descent, however there is a variety of places in the Middle East, Mediterranean and Asia that have also adopted the practice. Siestas have been noted in history long before modern civilizations. It is found in the timeline as early as ancient Islamic and Roman writings.
The Importance of a Siesta
Argentinians place family and respect in the top tier of their values. The Siesta is a time to rest and spend time with those you care about. Its timing will include lunch as a meal and not the quick PB&J you may be accustomed to. After eating, drinking and enjoying the company of family, a well-deserved rest is in order. This tradition is not a mere suggestion or a monthly occasion. If you are visiting or relocating to Argentina, you will have to adjust your daily schedule. Businesses and schools both accommodate the Siesta. The workday is divided for staff to go home midday to enjoy a few hours of rest. School schedules are set up with a morning session and another one in the afternoon giving students one or the other for studies.
Businesses will close down and lock the doors for Siesta. This includes restaurants and shops who may not reopen until 4:00 in the afternoon. Siestas begin at around noon depending on the structure of the area and will last until 3:30 or 4:00. One of the main reasons a Siesta was deemed as a necessary part of the day, was the unforgiving heat in the afternoon hours. A concern for the health and welfare of the people facilitated time for a nap and nourishment. There are some locations in the country that have left the old ways behind. Buenos Aires is one of the cities you will not find Siestas occurring as they have a different setting as their rural counterparts. The weather changes evident on a global scale alongside modern cooling techniques have reduced the major reason for Siestas to continue. Larger corporations and bigger cities are less invested with tradition as they are the impacts to the business day.
For most within the heritage of Argentina, the Siesta continues to be an esteemed part of their history. Incorporating time for family and rest are the virtues they stand on today. It is not popular in westernized countries, yet if there was a vote we would likely have a Siesta in every corner of the world.