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Siesta and Six

The word Siesta — the famous long breaks! — comes from the Latin sexta hora (“sixth hour”), because it was the 6th hour after the 6am wake-up time when everyone would stop, take a break, and pray. We can see the s-s/x root in both — both coming from the same Proto-Indo-European word for “six.”

Interestingly, however, another English word comes from the same fountain: noon, which was originally nona hora, the 9th hour after the 6am wake-up time — time for another prayer! But — you must be wondering — noon is only 6 hours after 6am, not 9am hours! Excellent point, and the explanation is: the ninth hour prayers were originally at 3pm (9 hours after 6am), but over time, people started taking their breaks earlier and earlier and earlier…. surprise, surprise.

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