Brazilians are known for taking long lunches, lasting up to two hours each day. The main reason for a long midday break is because lunch is viewed by Brazilians as those from the United States view dinner – a larger meal that is more social and relaxing. Thus, individuals take time to be with friends and family, build work relationships, and relax over lunch. Some suggest that the duration of lunch in Brazil has been influenced by the tradition of siestas in Spain.
A siesta refers to an individual going home for a midday nap, originally instituted for two main reasons: 1) temperatures were too hot to work in the afternoon, and 2) people were tired and lethargic after eating a big meal for lunch. Promoters of siestas believe that by taking a short nap in the afternoon, individuals come back to work refreshed. While siestas are not commonly practiced in Brazil, the underlying principle prevails.
Here’s an example of utilizing long lunches to build work relationships. In the magazine The Brazil Business, Cynthia Nes mentions that Brazilian businesspeople will schedule meetings with potential clients at 10:30 am or 11:00 am in hopes that the meeting will lead into a long lunch together – where the two individuals will have plenty of time to really get to know one another.
A different lifestyle is necessary to accommodate these long lunches. Brazilians tend to work later into the evening and arrive home for a light dinner. According to a recent study conducted by Reader’s Digest, other countries that similarly take long lunches include Spain, Greece, and France. In each of these countries, lunch can last anywhere from one to three hours. If you find yourself working in one of these countries, remember to view this longer break as an opportunity to build relationships with coworkers in a relaxing environment.