Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than Daylight Saving Time does, often dividing daylight into 12 hours regardless of daytime, so that each daylight hour became progressively longer during spring and shorter during fall, a more natural progression.
How did the idea of Daylight Saving time begin?
Benjamin Franklin published the proverb "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise". In a satirical letter in the Journal de Paris in 1784, he suggested that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. His satire proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. What a way to get people up early.
Despite common misconceptions, Franklin did not actually propose DST.
In 1810, the Spanish National Assembly Cortes of Cádiz issued a regulation that moved certain meeting times forward by one hour from May 1 to September 30 in recognition of seasonal changes, but it did not actually change the clocks.
In 1895 a New Zealand entomologist, George Hudson, first proposed modern DST. He proposed a 2-hour shift of the clocks in October and back again in March.
Many publications credit the DST proposal to prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett, who independently conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride when he observed how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day. Robert Pearce took up the proposal, introducing the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons on February 12, 1908. The bill did not become law, but Willett lobbied for the proposal in the UK until his death in 1915.
On July 1, 1908, Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada, was the first city in the world to enact DST.
In 1916 The German Empire and Austria-Hungary adopted DST as a way to conserve coal during wartime. Many other countries followed the idea.
1918 was the year the United States adopted daylight saving time as a seasonal time shift, but the bill was repealed 7 months later.
When is Daylight saving time?
February of 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt re-established the idea of daylight saving time. It was called "War Time." It lasted until the end of September 1945.
In the early 1960s, observance of DST was inconsistent.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the idea of regulating a yearly time change. Daylight saving time would begin the last Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October.
A year-round DST was enacted in January 1974 as a result of the energy crisis. The plan did little to save energy so the U.S. switched back to standard time on October 26, 1975. Springing forward again on the last Sunday in April.
Under legislation enacted in 1986, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. changed, it began at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.
Observance of Daylight Saving Time elsewhere in the world is highly variable.
In 2007, the start and end of daylight saving time shifted again. That year, it began on the second Sunday in March and it ended on the first Sunday in November.
Why all the shifts?
Daylight saving time is a moneymaker!
Time-change expert Michael Downing, a professor at Tufts University who wrote Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, said,
"Daylight saving is a loser as an energy plan, but it's a fantastic retail spending plan,"
"They understood something very early on: If you give workers daylight when they leave their jobs, they are much more apt to stop and shop on their way home."
One of the earliest prominent backers of daylight saving was Abraham Lincoln Filene (of Filene's Department Stores), who was a driving force behind the movement during World War I.
Other supporters included the gardening industry, as well as pro baseball and tennis.
In the mid-1980s when Congress held hearings on extending DST, officials from the golf industry said "an additional month of daylight saving was worth $200 million in additional sales of golf clubs and greens fees," Downing told NPR in 2007. "The barbecue industry said it was worth $100 million."
What would you do with more daylight?
Take a hike, go shopping, workout, have a BBQ, golf longer, work in your garden?
Whatever you do - I hope that you enjoy every extra minute or hour of daylight.
Don't forget to set your clocks ahead eat 2am on Sunday, March 13, 2022.