Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 8.
It's that time of year again—Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins on Sunday, March 8, at 2 a.m., meaning our clocks will need to "spring forward" an hour before we go to bed Saturday night.
While this tradition started in Germany in 1915, as a fuel-saving method during WWI, the United States adopted it in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. But let's not forget the advocacy of people like George Vernon Hudson (an insect collector from New Zealand), William Willet (the writer of the pamphlet "The Waste of Daylight"), and famous American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin. Here's some history behind this time-honored tradition. (Haha, get it?)
Ben Franklin's Contributions
What did Ben Franklin contribute to this idea of saving daylight? Well, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Franklin's "An Economical Project" is the earliest known proposal to “save” daylight. It advocated for specific legislation to motivate people to get up at the first light of dawn to save on candlelight use. The Old Farmer's Almanac also notes in their piece that Franklin had very specific instructions about daylight saving:
"Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards effectually… . Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable that he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”
While most of us would probably be a bit more motivated to jump quickly out of bed if cannons were used as wake-up calls, one would have to imagine that it would not go over very well. I must admit, however, that rising at the same time every morning would be a good way to get in a routine and get the day started!
A New Zealand Bug Collection
Known as an avid bug collector and artist from New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson proposed the idea for a two-hour seasonal time adjustment in 1895, with his pamphlet titled, "The Waste of Daytime." Mr. Hudson proposed this saving daylight idea based on the notion that the early darkness would not bode well for his after-work bug-collecting hobby. Interesting, right?
London builder William Willet lobbied businessmen, members of Parliament, and the U.S. Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and then reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. According to historical accounts, Willet's proposal was met mostly with ridicule.
DST During WW II
During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed once again (this time year-round) to save fuel. Clocks were set one hour ahead to save energy. After the war ended, states implemented Daylight Saving Time on their own, beginning and ending it on days of their choosing.
A Standard DST Model
Because the individual states started and ended their Daylight Saving Time on different dates, it caused quite a bit of upheaval. In 1966, Congress fixed this chaotic situation with the Uniform Time Act. Although only one standard for Daylight Saving was set, the Act did not mandate the actual use of the time change. So, some states like Arizona and Alaska, which did not wish to participate in Daylight Saving, were not obligated to adhere to the Uniform Time Act. Also, there was even more legislation passed to clarify the overlap of time zones and states. According to a National Geographic News article on this legislation, a "1972 amendment extended the option not to observe DST to areas lying in separate time zones but contained within the same state."
Modern Legislation Regarding Daylight Saving Time
The Energy Policy Act, established in 2005, but actually enacted in 2007, was hatched as a safety precaution for children. And as noted in a blog by the Huffington Post, the law was a "measure designed to help cut down on the number of children injured or killed in automobile accidents while trick-or-treating after dark on Halloween." Because of this Energy Policy Act, clocks now spring forward (turn clocks ahead and lose an hour) on the second Sunday in March (at 2 a.m.) and fall back (turn clocks back and gain an hour) on the first Sunday in November (at 2 a.m.).
What do you think of DST? Should any more legislation be enacted regarding Daylight Saving Time? Let us know by leaving a comment below.