Why do people eat so late in Spain? Explanation, reasons

The meal times of the Spaniards are notorious worldwide. In fact, people in this southern European country often eat much later than in the rest of Europe or the world. However, the late dinner of the Spaniards is particularly striking. This is not rarely taken until shortly before midnight, while other Europeans are partly already asleep.

The late dinner is part of the Spanish culture and a phenomenon that has been established for several hundred years. Compared to other countries, however, Spaniards eat quite manageable dinners. Mostly the choice is limited to small appetizers (also called „tapas“ in Spanish). This is usually accompanied by salad and wine. The most sumptuous meal of the day for the sun-kissed Spaniards is lunch, where they recharge their batteries for the whole day.

Travelers to Spain notice the phenomenon of the late dinner relatively quickly. However, many people do not know what exactly it means. The following article is therefore intended to explain the evening eating habits in Spain and to show the historical background.

Why do people eat so late in Spain? Explanation, reasons

In Spain, dinner is eaten quite late. The last meal of the day is often eaten between 9:30 and 11:00 p.m., which is much later than in all other European countries. Only in neighboring Portugal is dinner eaten similarly late in Europe. Here, too, times between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. for dinner are not uncommon. In the rest of Europe, people tend to eat earlier. On average, between 18:00 and 20:00. The further one goes geographically into the north of Europe, the earlier the evening meal is usually taken – in Norway and Sweden, for example, already between 16:30 and 18:00.

So Spain and Portugal are a big exception here. The time for dinner is also quite late compared to other countries outside Europe. However, the reasons for this are quite complex and will be shown in more detail later in the article.

Reasons for the late dinner of the Spaniards

Spaniards love their late dinner. For several reasons, they opt for later, but smaller and lighter meals:

  • Because of the time zone shift initiated by dictator Franko in 1942.
  • Because of the food culture of the Spaniards
  • Because of the hot climate in Spain

The above reasons will all be explained in detail once in the subsections below.

Time zone shift initiated by dictator Franko in 1942

In 1942, the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco introduced a time zone shift in Spain. Through this, the time in Spain was adjusted to the Central European time zone. Whereas Spain previously had the same time as London or Dublin, for example, the time was now advanced by a whole hour and henceforth corresponded to that of Paris, Berlin or Warsaw.

Franco cited above all political and social reasons that made the time zone shift necessary from his point of view. On the one hand, Franco wanted to get closer to Germany and Italy during the Second World War. On the other hand, there were also economic reasons. Mainly because of the latter, the time zone shift was maintained. For Spain oriented its economy since World War II primarily toward the European mainland and less toward Great Britain, Ireland or Portugal.

Food culture of the Spaniards

Spanish food culture is characterized by conviviality and a wide variety of tasty dishes. While breakfast is usually small and light, lunch is usually the main meal of the day. It is usually eaten during the „siesta“ (as the famous Spanish midday rest is called) – that is, between 14:00 and 15:30. The relatively late lunch also means that the evening meal is postponed, and is rarely eaten before 9:00 pm. Spanish working hours also differ somewhat from the rest of Europe – for example, the typical Spaniard works from 10:00 to 18:00 or 19:00.

Climate in Spain

The Spanish climate also plays an important role in terms of late dinner. In large parts of the country there is a Mediterranean climate – in the south of the country the climate even already resembles that in the Sahara. Spaniards therefore prefer to dine in the milder evening hours and limit their choice of food to light dishes such as tapas, cold soups or salads. The late dinner then also ensures that one can better enjoy the cooler evening atmosphere. Many Spaniards then celebrate this in smaller street cafés or in their own garden – together with friends or family members.

Impact of the late dinner on cultural life

Spaniards‘ late dinners have a significant impact on their cultural life, which shifts late into the evening or night even on weekdays. It is not uncommon for Spaniards to meet late in the evening for dinner followed by dancing or drinking. Cultural events, theater performances and social interactions often take place around late dinner. The start of work each morning in Spain is correspondingly late.

Advantages and disadvantages of the late dinner of the Spaniards

The late dinner of Spaniards has both advantages and disadvantages. These are to be pointed out in the following subsections once more near.

Advantages of the late dinner of the Spaniards

  • Evening can be spent in a convivial atmosphere with friends and relatives
  • Enjoying a meal slowly also promotes a sense of well-being
    More pleasant atmosphere in the evening

Disadvantages of the late dinner of the Spaniards

  • Disturbed sleep-wake rhythm
  • Strain on the digestive system (insofar as going to bed shortly after dinner)

Conclusion on the subject of late dinner and time zone shift in Spain

So, to sum up, the late, Spanish dinner is a long-held tradition. Among other things, it goes back to dictator Franco, who initiated a time zone shift in Spain in 1942. But even before that, Spaniards ate dinner comparatively late. However, this is mainly due to the Spanish climate, which only allows pleasant temperatures in the later evening hours.

For tourists and travelers to Spain, the late, Spanish dinner represents a cultural phenomenon of this region. It offers advantages and disadvantages, but is particularly suitable for vacationers, as it provides a good basis for evening activities.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge. Mehr über BedeutungOnline.de und mich erfährst du hier.

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