Spain’s Chronological Confusion

When travelling between Spain and the UK – and even Portugal and Spain, you have to remember the hour difference – we’re in a different time zone… or are we?

On the 16th of March, 1940, Franco decided that Spain should be on the same time as Berlin – let’s face it; everybody thought that Hitler was going to win in 1940, so Franco decided that such a gesture wouldn’t go unnoticed. So he published a decree on that date and since then it’s all gone downhill.

Normally, a country’s time is by the meridian that most approximates the advance of dawn and dusk, which in the case of Spain means that it should be on the same time as Portugal, the UK and Morocco. In fact, if you live in Vigo, for example, you drive a few dozen kilometres south (not even west) and entering Portugal, you go into a different time zone, but the same person from Vigo can travel east to the other side of Macedonia before leaving the time zone!

In winter we are one hour in front of the normal daylight hours and in the summer… two hours! No wonder nobody has dinner before half ten or goes out until midnight! Which brings us on to eating habits…

The really interesting bit is that this disparity is the reason that the Spaniards eat their lunch so late! It’s got nothing to do with being a Latin country or a Mediterranean one because the Italians, Greeks and Portuguese all lunch, dine and go to bed much earlier. No, when Franco decreed that everybody had to get up an hour earlier to impress Hitler, and consequently had an eternal afternoon before the sun went down – solution, delay lunch. But when you delay lunch, you finish work later, dine later and go to bed later, but… you get up at the same time as the Germans.

That’s why you see construction workers and town-hall workers going for breakfast at 10.00am, which will carry them through to 14.00h.

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(News: Spain)