6 Countries with the Longest Lunch Breaks in the World
Canadians, read this and weep: Workers in these countries get two to three times as long for their lunch breaks. Here’s how the other half lives—and the trade-offs this lifestyle requires.
Spain: 3 hours
The Spanish “siesta” is no joke. In Spain, most companies break between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., then work another three hours before quitting time. How else are you going to be prepped for 10 o’clock dinners? But why these hours and not, say, 9 a.m. to noon? It’s because that’s when the outdoor weather is the hottest, causing productivity to take a nose dive, whether one works outdoors or in an office. Spaniards are currently holding tight to tradition. Last year, the Catalonian government voted to end the workday at 6 p.m., The Guardian reports, which may spell the end of the siesta for this region.
Greece: 3 hours
A long lunch break in Greece isn’t so much about resting. It’s also rooted in traditional meal times. Greeks view lunch as the biggest meal of the day, which means it takes more time to chow down. Most people head home for lunch and a nap around 2 p.m., returning to the workplace at 5 p.m., which is about when the North American workday slows down. What might one eat in Greece for lunch? Meze—small plates—of feta, olives, tzatziki, vegetables, and souvlaki are likely lunch options.
France: 2 hours
It’s acceptable for shop owners throughout France—whether in bustling Paris or rural Provence—to shut down between around 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. This is the universal lunch and afternoon break for school kids and working adults alike. According to the English-language French digital publication thelocal.fr, a recent survey found that 43 per cent of French workers spend more than 45 minutes eating lunch every day—the highest percentage of 14 countries surveyed.
China: 2 hours
Workers in China receive a lunch break between noon and 2 p.m., starting with a quick lunch followed by a nap. The idea of the power nap is catching on in the country, according to a 2014 NBC article: Factories allow workers to indulge in naps of 30 minutes or less.
Brazil: 2 hours
Brazilian workers know how to make the most of their lunch break. They will often schedule a meeting out of the office for 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. and then take a two-hour lunch. But, like Spain, dinner begins very late in the evening, allowing them to work later—and creating the need for a hearty lunch.
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Italy: 90 minutes
Unless your boss is fairly relaxed (or you are the boss), an hour-and-a-half lunch is unheard of North America. In Italy, it’s standard, according to a recent survey by Quickbooks. Sounds nice, right?
Next, check out these healthy and delicious lunch ideas from around the world.
Originally published as 6 Countries with the Longest Lunch Breaks in the World on ReadersDigest.com.