Yes. This is still a thing.
As you sit there in your office, scarfing leftovers over your keyboard, there are people in Spain having this debate RIGHT NOW.
This country, which specializes in hovering between the first and third world, has a unique work schedule. It has a unique schedule in general, in fact. Spain's average dinnertime, according to a recent Diario Vasco article, is 9:45pm. Neighboring France, on the other hand, sits down for their diner at 7, only slightly later than Americans. Many workers and students have a one and a half to two hour break in the middle of the day. Then they return to the office from 4 to 6 or 7.
Some people go home for this break, and even take a NAP! YES THIS IS REAL! Others go out to lunch, frequenting the restaurants with menus del dia, where the standard is a three course meal with a bottle of wine to drink to your desire, for around 10 euros.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Americanizing the schedule. Adopting the 'horario anglosajona". Talking to people here, there are many different opinions on the issue. I hear a lot of people saying they prefer the American schedule, but I don't think they know what they're saying. "We have to change to gain a more satisfactory daily life," says the sociologist quoted in the DV article.
Well, sociologist, first goes the long lunch, then the shops are closing earlier, then the streets are emptying and before you know it your societal web is coming undone. Although for many other reasons the Spanish appear to already be on this path. I often think about what the trend of having one baby at the age of 40 will do to the structure of the family here.
It seems inevitable. Sad and inevitable. So I'm just going to thank my lucky stars that I live in the Last Epoque of Spain. Sure, it's not Hemingway's absinthe-filled wild west, but relatively speaking, it kind of is. An 8am beer at your local tavern? Grownups eating ice cream on the street at midnight during the week? Wine at a business lunch? Mayonnaise perched on bread and breathed on by strangers for a couple of hours? These are modern-day prohibitions equivalent in level of taboo to the prostitution and gunslinging of olden days.
So maybe we, we Americans that know exactly what happens when you have to wake up early, work all day with almost no break, then go home at five or six, should warn them. Sign a petition. Launch a campaign to make these people aware of exactly what they have...before it's too late...