The curious case of the missing Spanish afternoon

When I first moved to Spain last summer, I felt a strange disorientation. I could hardly blame the culture shock. Because I had been visiting the country for years before moving to Madrid. i speak spanish I have a Spanish family. But I never lived here and something was out of place. Then a casual comment from a friend fleshed out the problem. “The problem is that in Spain we don’t say anything about the afternoon,” she said. And she was right.

I know that an online dictionary translates afternoon as “la tarde” in Spanish. But it’s more complicated than that. Tarde is not a well-defined word that covers a separate segment of the day before evening. What is the Spanish night language? It’s also “Latarde”.

Yes, slippery but hegemonic and tardo rules everything. An amorphous concept that spans chunks of the day so large that other languages ​​would require two words. Tardo resists control and there is no social consensus on what that means. The Spaniards themselves cannot agree on when it will begin and when it will end. “In that sense, Spanish life is chaotic,” says Fernando Vilches, a linguist at the University of Rey Juan Carlos. I think you can name my affliction: scheduling shock.

Spaniards divide the day by different parameters. Those I call watchmakers, often young people who have lived abroad, think in units of time. But what time? No one agrees that tarde starts at noon. One government minister said he would greet people with “buenas tardes” as he began his speech at 12:30 p.m. “But if people tell you to make a funny face at 12:00 pm.” Many watchmakers say that being late starts at 2:00 pm. But there are also factions at 4pm.

Then there are foodies who start their day with meals instead of hours. Meals are often long, slow and wonderfully convivial in Spain. For those who say the tardo doesn’t start until you start lunch, that could mean 2:30, 3:30, or later. not.

A big lunch with a client starts with beer, sips wine, ends with a shot of Pacharan, and a gin and tonic at the bar next door. “Then I’ll be back at work at 6 p.m.,” he says Vilches. “If you do that to a poor American, he gets drunk and sleepy and wants to go home. Many companies are doing away with his standard two-hour lunch break so people can go home to their families sooner.

Spain’s famous post-lunch siesta isn’t as common as it sounds either. The only people I know who take regular weekday naps are in daycare or retirees. One, my relative Marcelino, 70, says the tarde doesn’t start until he wakes up around 7pm. However, in the summer when it is so hot that you can’t do anything without an air conditioner, more people take a nap. If most of your day is written off, you probably don’t need the afternoon and evening words.

By 9:00 p.m., the early bird will start dinner. But from 9 to 10 he’s a gray zone and greeting someone with ‘buenas noches’ instead of ‘buenas tardes’ can elicit a funny look. On weekends, the children are still at the playground at 10:30 PM. Restaurant reservations are available from quarter to midnight.

Daniel Gabaldon, a sociologist at the University of Valencia, says that this is all related to another interesting thing. It means mainland Spain is in the wrong time zone. If you set your clock according to the position of the sun, it will be the same time as England and Portugal. However, in the 1940s Francisco Franco’s dictatorship decided that Spain should ally with Nazi Germany, so an hour ahead. For half of the year, Spain sets the clock to solar time on the German-Polish border. When adjusted for daylight saving time, it coincides with the solar time of central Ukraine.

Having lunch at 2:30pm in Spain means that you are actually eating at 1:30pm (winter) or 12:30pm (summer), according to solar time. increase. Too much disparity between formal and natural time is unhealthy, says Nuria Chinchilla of Iese Business School. “We have jet lag all the time.”

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