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The Story Behind Daylight Savings Time, Which Begins This Weekend

At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8 (or before you go to bed on Saturday night), remember to turn your clocks forward by one hour — for Daylight Saving Time adjustments. In fact, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March in America and continues until fall. Interestingly, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t participate in DST, but for the rest of us, this is the “spring ahead” weekend.

Springhead

The reason we practice or implement Daylight Saving Time is somewhat obscure. Some say it is practiced in an effort to save energy, but that argument has been called into question. Nonetheless, here’s a little insight into the history of DST for true time junkies.

Some credit the concept to American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who, in a 1784 essay entitled "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," suggested people get out of bed earlier in the morning to use the light instead of candles. More than a century later, in 1895, a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, wanted more daylight time for his studies, so he presented a report to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight savings time program.

Though the concept wasn’t embraced internationally, it laid the groundwork. A decade later, in 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea of DST, suggesting setting clocks ahead in April and switching them back in September. His idea caught the attention of Robert Pearce, who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The concept was opposed by farmers in England and did not pass, but it laid more groundwork. In 1916, Germany was the first country to implement DST and several countries followed suit, including America.

robertawatch

In the United States after World War II, states could select if they wanted to impose DST and on which dates. However, mass confusion caused Congress to establish the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which set a protocol for DST times/dates. Still, some U.S. states/territories don’t participate, and argue the usefulness of it. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of DST in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Additionally, while it is recognized around the world, not all countries practice DST, and those that do, do so on different dates.

At any rate, here we are in the “Spring Ahead” portion of the “Spring Forward, Fall Back” DST concept. So don’t forget to change your clocks and your watches. Sorry, it means you will lose an hour of sleep.