If you take only one thing from this post, then take this: Spring forward and fall backward. That is the shorthand for how you should set your clock when the Daylight Saving Time strikes the calendar. Okay, there are two things you should take away from this post. The second is that it is called Daylight Saving Time not Daylight Savings Time. A minor distinction but one that seems to trip up a lot of people. Actually, there are three things you should take away from this post… Obviously, there are some interesting factoids about DST that can fill your brain. Read on:
No, It Wasn’t Ben
When searching for the so-called inventor of Daylight Saving Time, many folks would name Ben Franklin as that inventor. They would be wrong. It is true that Mr. Franklin coined the phrase, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” However, that didn’t generate a call for legislation. Ben also wrote a satirical essay about waking up early and suggesting that we should fire cannons and ring church bells at sunrise. Funny but not a law. To find the real DST inventor you will have to jump a hundred years from Franklin’s time and head down under.
It All Started With Bugs
In 1895, George Hudson was collecting bugs. This was a hobby for this New Zealand based entomologist that was often impeded by his regular work as most hobbies are. Hudson thought it would be a swell idea for a two-hour daylight-saving shift. That would allow him to get off work with plenty of sunshine to collect his bugs.
Jump ahead to 1905 and to England where you will find avid golfer William Willett bemoaning the fact that too many of his fellow residents were sleeping in late during the summer. Plus, he had to cut his golf games short at dusk. His solution was to “summer forward” by moving clocks ahead by two hours. A friend in Parliament took up the cause and it went nowhere fast.
Congress Gets Involved and It’s a Mess
Germany was the first country to adopt a form of DST during WWI. They did it to save coal. Then President Woodrow Wilson took up the cause and got Daylight Saving Time passed through Congress on March 31, 1918. Again, it was meant to help support the war effort by reducing the need to energy. That measure lasted a whole year until Congress stepped in and chucked out the law. However, some cities like New York and Chicago continued to change their clocks.
As the years went on, various states and even town decided on their own DST rules. For instance, in 1965 there were 23 different start and end dates for DST just in Iowa. You could drive ten minutes to one town and be an hour late even though you left an hour early. It is no wonder Time Magazine dubbed this the “chaos of clocks.” Finally, in 1966 the Uniform Time Act passed that standardized everything. DST would go forward the last Sunday in April and go back in the last Sunday in October. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 shifted the times yet again to its current status: Second Sunday in March and first Sunday in November.
Have you ever been late because of the time switch?