** Reposting this one – enjoy! **
When I walked the Camino across Spain last year, I passed through countless towns and villages along the way.
Okay, somebody probably counted them by now so they’re surely not “countless” at all.
But there were a lot of them.
I got familiar with the Spanish custom of siesta in the afternoon – usually between the hours of 1 and 4pm.
Sometimes, I had arrived at my destination by then and was enjoying lunch and chat with other pilgrims. We could be having a coke or a glass of wine, sitting in the shade or the sun, and relishing the chance to sit and rest our tired bodies.
Other times, I was in the process of showering and washing my clothes in a sink, taking care of logistics in preparation for the next day’s walking.
Sometimes, by the time it came to 1pm, I was still out walking. It’s a hot time in the day to be on the trail but I wasn’t fast enough to walk 25km first thing in the morning, so I often walked into the early afternoon. Occasionally, I was still walking when the clock rolled around to 4pm, too. If you thought it was hot at 1pm, you’d be surprised to find it even hotter at 4pm!
Once, I felt frustrated with the awkward opening hours, hungrily waiting to buy food from the only grocery shop in a tiny village.
When it came to siesta, I often found myself doing something other than sleep.
But on a couple of occasions I happened to be indoors, with a secure bed for the night, and a relatively quiet room around me. On a few occasions, I managed to have an afternoon nap and join the rest of Spain in this glorious custom. Those naps were precious and delightful. Thinking about them even now makes me smile inside!
We all need to rest. We all need to down tools and put up our feet. In Spain, the daily siesta gave us an opportunity to go more slowly in life. The daily siesta gave us a chance to take a break from walking, or take some time to reflect. Life can’t be all “go-go-go” all the time. We are organic creatures and need recovery time.
Christmas is a flurry of activity for many of us. There’s a long list of shopping, cooking, and socialising to tend to, and sometimes that’s before the 25th even starts! For others, it tenderly reminds us of loved ones who are ill or no longer here to join us in celebration. For some of us, it’s a lonely time as we watch other people race about in excitement, but with little excitement of our own. And for some of us, it’s not really a holiday we resonate with, but we have to watch the flurry all the same.
Not everyone likes Christmas, while others would embrace it every day of the year.
It takes all sorts.
In the northern hemisphere right now, it’s winter. The days are short, the nights are dark, and our hibernating tendencies kick in as we try to stay warm, stay fed, and stay cosy. It’s a good time of the year to have a holiday, have a nap, and load up on extra calories.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, it is still a winter holiday – a time to take a break and put up your feet. Whatever your stance around religious holidays, family gatherings, boozy celebrations, or consumerist shopping sprees, this is a siesta in the middle of winter. It’s an opportunity to slow things down a little, take some time to rest, and take some time to reflect. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or involve a lot of cooking – it’s all about taking a break from the daily chaos.
Every day I walked Camino, Spain held its daily siesta in the afternoon. The break was great, but there was always more walking to be done. We couldn’t stay resting forever, however tempting it was!
So may your Christmas siesta give you the energy and strength you need to keep going, too. Whatever you choose to do with this winter holiday, I hope it fills you with peace. May the Christmas siesta be refreshing and restful, and may you return to this blog feeling hopeful and inspired for the year ahead.
I’ll be here to share more tales from my Camino journey, and I look forward to connecting with you then. 🙂
In the meantime, Happy Christmas.