6 Facts You May Not Know About Daylight Saving Time
Most of us have either heard or experienced Daylight Saving Time. But what exactly is Daylight Saving Time?
Well! Many countries across the globe follow this time concept where as a general practice, clocks are set forward by an hour from the standard time in summer months and return back to original time after that to make the best use of natural daylight and save energy.
While most of the USA observes Daylight Saving Time (DST) from 2:00AM on the second Sunday of March up to the first Sunday in November, in Europe DST begins at 1:00AM on the last Sunday of March and ends at 1:00AM on the last Sunday of October.
Do you know there are some very interesting but not widely known facts about Daylight Saving (And not “Daylight Savings”! Psst…!!) that you are probably not aware of? Let us dive into 6 of these strange albeit true facts about this annual time altering phenomenon called Daylight Saving Time.
FACT 1: Daylight Saving was observed even during ancient times
The concept of Daylight Saving has been in the picture since ancient civilizations. History bears testimony that many ancient civilizations altered the length of their days depending on seasons, including Romans.
Yes! Did you know, Roman hour was extended to be of 75-minutes during summer months and shortened to 44-minutes during winters?! In fact, even in 1895, a New Zealand-based entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, did suggest shifting time by two hours in the months of September and March to reap benefits of daylight but his idea was scoffed at. Finally, six years from then -in 1901 – King Edward VII, wanting to add more hours to his hunting time, actually put back the clocks by 30-minutes at Sandringham.
FACT 2: Benjamin Franklin was not the originator of this idea!
Though Benjamin Franklin has often been documented as the one to propose Daylight Saving Time, it is somewhat erroneous to portray him has the inventor of this idea! It is true that Franklin was inclined towards maximizing the use of daylight hours.
But, Benjamin simply proposed an altered sleep schedule, rather than moving of clocks either forward or backward! This is very much evident from his satirical essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” that he wrote in 1784 while on an envoy in Paris. In this essay, Franklin jokingly suggests that Parisians could save up to a tune of $200 million if they could just wake at dawn and make full utilization of daylight!
FACT 3: Daylight Saving Time was officially proposed by an Englishman
Yes! It was an Englishman who first officially proposed the concept of observing DST. A true sunlight lover and a builder by profession, William Willet self-published a pamphlet in 1907 advocating the concept of advancing time by four increments of 20-minutes each in April and then reversing in September by the same time, reasoning lowering of lighting costs and a surge in recreational pursuits.
From 1908 to 1911, he presented his proposal to the British Parliament, but year after year the members stymied his proposal as toying with time was considered a rather radical idea. A year after Willet died, a revised and less confusing version of his proposal was accepted and passed as British Summer Time Act on 17 May 1916, under duress of the palliative war situation further accentuated by acute coal shortage.
FACT 4: Germany was the first country to enact DST
While the idea originated in an Englishman’s mind, the first country to reap the fruits of his dream recommendation was surprisingly Britain’s biggest wartime enemy – Germany, which was at war with Britain at that time!! Driven by war-time need to save power during World War I, Germany implemented daylight saving time on April 30, 1916 (weeks before Britain introduced it!!)
FACT 5: USA implemented DST during WW-I
Surprisingly, the US was among the later nations to implement this practice, much after Germany, Canada, and Britain. US started using DST on a large scale, not before World War I in 1918, when coal depletion during wartime forced it to take action! World War II saw USA observing year-round DST for precisely the same reasons.
However, it was not until 1966 that the US officially enacted the Uniform Time Act across states, under the aegis of President Lyndon B. Johnson, implementing a uniform time and removing the arbitrary start and end of DST.
FACT 6: Not all US States observe DST; rather its observance across the globe differs too
Of all US states, only 48 of them adjust their time to incorporate daylight saving time. The states of Hawaii, Arizona, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands and Northern Marina Islands do not adhere to this shift in time and continue to use their standard times all year round. In fact, even within states like Arizona itself, regions like Navajo Nation adhere to DST concept, while other regions do not.
Though over 70 nations across the globe including the US, most parts of Europe, some countries across the African continent and Asia observe DST, their observance of DST still varies greatly. With more or less the same daylight hours year-round, countries along the equator see little reason in following this practice, while the ones at the poles, like Iceland, and others like Argentina too, observe year-round DST or what is also called “Summer Time”. Russia, which had adopted DST in early-1930s, has finally done away with this practice as of 2011.
Besides these, daylight saving time has many other empirically collected facts that throw light on its virtues and vices. One worth mentioning here is definitely the loss of almost 40-minutes of sleep-time during DST, leading to increased traffic to hospitals at the time it starts! The good side, though, is that there is curiously a lower crime rate and spurt in recreational pursuits, with the start of DST.