Oh No! It’s time to change the clocks again
Twice a year, Americans across most of the country must deal with a disruption to their daily schedule. In early March, clocks spring forward an hour with the change to daylight saving time. In early November, the cycle is reversed, and clocks fall back for the return to standard time.
Over 100 years ago this month, Congress passed a law, that just like taxes, affects the life of almost every American.
In March 1918, daylight saving time began. This year daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m., which means Saturday night before you go to bed you need to set your clocks forward one hour…or if you prefer, stay up and do it right on schedule.
It’s “Spring Forward, Fall Back.” Got that?
For many, the time change is welcome because of the longer periods of daylight in the evening, which allows time for more outside activity.
Many believe that Benjamin Franklin invented daylight saving time. He did not. Others think it was invented because of farmers. They may blame it on farmers, but they don’t take blame or credit for the time change.
In 1912 in Orillia, Ontario, the town mayor instituted daylight saving time, which turned out to be a disaster. Not everyone liked the idea. Workers saw it as a capitalist plot to make them work longer hours. Some factories followed the new time, others on standard time. Women complained. And, just after two weeks, the mayor was forced to rescind the order.
But, come World War I. Daylight saving time might never have happened if it hadn’t been for World War I. In 1916, Germany and Austria instituted daylight saving time — as a way to conserve more coal for the military. Britain felt compelled to follow suit. And, eventually, so did the United States. Congress passed the law on March 19, 1918. Then, as soon as the war ended, there was an effort to repeal it. Farmers hated daylight saving time and they were more politically powerful then. President Woodrow Wilson was a golfer, though, which meant he liked it. Twice he vetoed repeal bills. Finally, Congress overrode the second veto and the clocks went back to normal.
A few cities held on, though. New York kept daylight saving time so that its stock exchanges could have some overlap with the ones in London. Cleveland and Chicago felt the need to keep up with New York. The new president, Warren Harding, complained that daylight saving time was a “deception” but liked the general idea of more sunlight after work. His solution was to order federal employees to start work at 8 a.m. rather than 9 a.m. You can imagine how that went over.
Daylight saving time came back during World War II, and lingered on in many states until 1966, when it was formally instituted nationwide — with a few weird exceptions here or there. Arizona, for instance, doesn’t observe daylight saving time, although its Navajo reservations do.
Over the years, the Daylight Saving Time Coalition has lobbied to increase the length of the time it stays in effect. President George W. Bush made sure daylight saving time went past Halloween to give more sunlight for trick-or-treaters.
However, the idea of toying around with time still seems controversial. Just every few years a state or a group suggests banning daylight saving time and sticking with standard time. Some would like to see daylight saving time instituted year round.
Daylight saving time does, however, serve a purpose, and that purpose is one worth the biannual annoyance. Daylight saving time helps a society dependent upon clocks deal with the fact that the sun doesn’t rise or set according to a fixed schedule.
As the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the sun changes throughout the year, the sun rises earlier and sets later into the summer — and then rises later and sets earlier in the winter. Without daylight saving time, the sun would start peeking in your bedroom before 6 a.m. in mid-summer.
The annual ritual of springing forward costs us an hour’s sleep each March. The hour we theoretically get back in the fall never quite seems to make up for it.
Shorter days are inevitable in the winter months, but nothing beats the autumn vibes of crisp, cool weather and early sunsets. Just as we look forward to spring and longer evenings, so do we look forward to fall at summer’s end. But, for now, take advantage of the morning and “rise and shine.”
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