Although the Spanish may be considered unique for choosing to eat dinner as the clock approaches midnight, the peculiar habit could stem from the fact that the country is running one hour later than it should be.
In 1941, authoritarian general Francisco Franco decided to move all the clocks in Spain ahead one hour as a show of solidarity with Adolf Hitler.
However the Spanish digestive system did not change with the clocks. They kept eating their 1 p.m. lunch — although it was now at 2 p.m. And because the Spanish tend to take leisurely lunches (and siestas), the workday extended to about 8 p.m., pushing dinner back an hour as well. It wasn’t until 9 or 10 p.m. that people were able to prepare dinner when they got home from work.
But even after World War I, Spain didn’t go back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), where it belongs. The entire day still remains an hour later.
In April 2016, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced a plan to improve labor conditions and end the workday at 6 p.m. A main factor in being able to end the day earlier would be a return to GMT.
The Spanish government is considering enacting this plan in March 2018, which could mean that by this time next year Spain’s long siesta and very late dinners could become obsolete.