the sobremesa
Language Resources

Spanish Sobremesa

The sobremesa is a Spanish tradition that involves spending time relaxing after a meal to drink coffee or digestive liquor or to just continue hanging out chatting at the table after eating. The ritual is a consequence of the heavy Spanish lunch, often made up of a first course, second course, and desert.

Getting back to work immediately after consuming three plates of food would be no easy task; the body needs time to digest. Since it’d be a little strange to go ahead and take a siesta right at the table in a restaurant, we’ve substituted the after-lunch snooze with the sobremesa.

It’s not surprising that the sobremesa hour is also one of Spain’s main TV primetimes. If you’re in Spain you may have been surprised to see the main news programs airing at three o’clock in the afternoon and that it lasts about an hour. Most Spaniards eat at that time, and many watch the news then at home or having a coffee in a café.

But is this is a good custom? Some think it is but others think it’s not. It’s considered to be a part of Spanish culture, and considering the work schedule that many follow, it’s a good time to take a break before the long hours that still lay ahead. We’re hearing more and more people however voice the opinion that the sobremesa just ends up uselessly extending the work day; long hours combined with a big lunch ends up bogging down productivity. Some say that with a more reasonable work schedule, say from 8 am to 3 pm, Spaniards could continue to enjoy the sobremesa but without having to worry about getting back to work.

We all know that we Spaniards love debates, and what better topic to argue about than one of our most deeply rooted traditions?