Go back 200, 300, or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze.
“The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed,” notes Shor. “Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.”
Medieval peasants lived grueling, terrible lives. But their vacation days beat out the policies now common even in progressive societies.