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10 Ways People Around The World Take A Break

Published 3 years ago on August 30, 2017
By Vincent

Taking a break can be vital to productiveness as it allows a brief moment of rest and recuperation so that the body and mind don't suffer from fatigue and one might get the most out of their day. Different people around the world have a different approach to taking a break during their working day with some placing the utmost importance on it whilst others view it as little more than a distraction.

Here we view different cultural approaches to taking a break and how they go about it.

1. Japan - Inemuri

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Japan has a very industrious and work orientated culture that sees most of the population putting in overtime with no extra pay to show to their employers that they are committed to their jobs and a hard working. With the majority of office workers doing 14 hour days, this has also led to the rise of Inemuri.

This is the concept of napping in public and, in certain cases, even at your desk. Inemuri is usually a short 30-minute nap that can be had anywhere from on the train to at your desk so as to keep on working as long as necessary. Although it may sound uncomfortable to others, it is ingrained into Japanese cultures and whilst many wouldn't ever dream of napping at work, it is perfectly acceptable in many places of work in Japan.

2. Sweden - Fika


One of the three highest coffee consuming countries in the world, Sweden has a cultural affinity to coffee with a notion called ‘fika’. This is literally just a break time where coffee and cake are consumed but so ingrained in the national psyche is it, that people will quite often make time in their working day for it and it helps communities bond as locals will often discuss events and goings on during fika.

Anyone who has read a Stieg Larsson book will know how often the Swedes take to the drink as there is nearly a mention of it on every page, which is unsurprising as they drink 1.357 cups of it per day per capita.

3. Britain - Tea Break

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Although tea is rather losing its standing in British society with younger generations more likely to turn to coffee or other beverages, the tea break remains a constant although it has no set time or moment during the day. Although British working culture means that many would be reluctant to leave their desks for a prolonged period, getting up to boil the kettle and have a quick chat over a cup of tea in the office kitchen area is something done up and down the country.

This can be done multiple times in a day, and often sees one person in the office doing a 'tea run' where they will opt to make tea for the rest of the office should they want it.

4. Spain - Siesta


The siesta is a common tradition in many countries where the weather is warmer than others and usually, comes after the midday meal. A nap in the middle of the day sounds great to most people and many Spaniards plan their day around this break that punctuates their working day. After all, who hasn't had a big meal and thought they could really use a good nap afterward.

Largely abandoned in many parts of modern Spain, the tradition still exists in parts of the country and across South America.

5. France - The Long Lunch

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The lunch break in France can last around two hours as the country considers it a very important part of their cuisine loving culture to take the time to have a three-course meal, often accompanied by a glass of wine. The tradition has fallen a little by the wayside in recent years but the French still have the longest lunch break in Europe and one of the longest in any developed nation.

The belief behind this is that it's important to take a break in order to enjoy one of life’s most important pleasures.

6. Finland - Kaffi

A coffee break much like that of Sweden's Fika (in fact, the word Fika comes from Kaffi) and often accompanied by sweet treats and pastries, Finland often battles it out year on year with the Netherlands to the title of highest consumers of coffee per capita. Finland, however,  is the only country in the world where it is mandatory that workers be allowed a coffee break.

A  recent report from Nordic Coffee Culture found that 6% of Finnish women and 14% of men drink more than 10 cups of coffee per day and with the average being between 4 and 5 cups a day for a coffee drinker, it does explain why the rate of consumption comes in at 1.848 per day per capita.

7. New Zealand & Australia - Smoko


Deriving from smoking on your cigarette break 'Smoko' has become an all-encompassing term for a short break from work and is inherently associated with manual labor or physical work. Amongst Australian Sheep Shearers, Smoko is a mid-morning break, between breakfast and lunch, in which a light meal may be eaten.

Although starting out as an informal term, it has now been used in government writing and industrial relations reports to mean a short work break.

8. Austria - Gabelfruhstuck

Literally a second breakfast, this meal was very popular in Vienna in past years and many schools and workplaces included a break time for this light meal in between breakfast and lunch. Often mistranslated as brunch, it is actually closer to the British tradition of 'elevenses' (not often practiced anymore.)

Not often in practice anymore, it still wouldn't be considered strange to find this practice still alive in some households.

9. Argentina - Merienda

Filling the gap between lunch and dinner, merienda is like the evening equivalent of gabelfruhstuck. Popular in South America, Southern Europe, and the Phillippines, it usually consists of a baked snack and a warm beverage like scones and coffee just to keep you going until the next substantial meal of the day.

Some places also use the term to refer to a morning meal as well but predominantly it is used for the evenings.

10. Greece - Lunch & Nap

Socrates Baltagiannis/

The Greeks, like the Spanish, have taken lunchtime to a whole new level by taking a good hour-long sleep after a big lunch, which they consider the most important meal of the day. This is usually taken with a glass of ouzo and includes some decent time spent with the family as well.

Starting at around 2 pm, workers will then return to work at around 5 pm.

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