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Here’s why the clocks go forward in spring?


DALLAS — Once again, most Americans will set their clocks forward an hour this weekend, perhaps losing some sleep but enjoying more glorious evening sunshine in warm weather heading into summer.

So where did all this come from?

How we turn the clock forward in the spring and turn it back in the autumn is a story spanning more than a century; A story driven by two world wars, at times mass confusion, and the human desire for enjoyment. in the sun for as long as possible.

There is much debate about the practice, but approximately 70 countries (about 40% of countries worldwide) currently use what Americans call daylight saving time.

Moving the clocks forward “kind of shakes up our system,” says Anne Buckle, web editor of timeanddate.com, which offers information about time, time zones and astronomy. The extra daylight encourages people to get outside, exercise and have fun, she says.

“A really, really great perk is the bright evenings, right?” says. “It actually takes hours of daylight after you come home from work to spend time with family or activities. And this is wonderful.”

Here are some things you need to know to be informed about people’s time manipulation practices:


In the 1890s, George Vernon Hudson, an astronomer and entomologist in New Zealand, suggested changing the time between spring and autumn to increase daylight hours. In the early 1900s, frustrated by people’s inability to enjoy the morning sun, British home builder William Willett made a similar attempt. However, none of the proposals gained enough interest to be implemented.

Germany started using daylight saving time during World War I, with the idea that it would save energy. Other countries, including the United States, soon followed suit. During World War II, the United States once again introduced what was called “wartime” throughout the country, this time throughout the year.

Today, daylight saving time is observed in all states in the United States except Hawaii and Arizona. Around the world, Europe, most of Canada and parts of Australia also implement it, while Russia and Asia do not currently do so.


After World War II, timekeeping emerged in the United States, with some regions implementing daylight saving time and others abandoning it.

“One town may have daylight saving time, the next town may have daylight saving time but start and end it on different dates, and the third neighboring town may not have daylight saving time at all,” says David Prerau, author of the book. Catch the Daylight: The Curious and Controversial Story of Daylight Saving Time.

At one point, if passengers on a 35-mile bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, wanted their watches to be accurate, they would have to change their watches seven times when entering and exiting daylight saving time. Prerau says.

So in 1966, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which said states could or did not implement daylight saving time, but it had to be statewide. The law also mandates the day on which daylight saving time begins and ends across the country.

Confusion about the time change isn’t just something from the past. Last spring, chaos ensued in the country of Lebanon when the government announced a last-minute decision to delay the start of daylight saving time by a month, until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Some agencies made the change and others rejected it as citizens tried to piece together their schedules. Within a few days the decision was reversed.

“It turned into a big mess where no one really knew what time it was,” Buckle says.


Changing the clocks twice a year causes a lot of grumbling and forces you to either use standard time all year round or stick to daylight saving time all year round.

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, the United States started year-round daylight saving time, and Americans didn’t like it. Prerau says that in winter, in some areas, the sun doesn’t rise until 9 a.m. or even later, so people wake up in the dark, go to work in the dark, and send their children to school in the dark.

“It became unpopular very quickly,” says Prerau.

And, he notes, using standard time year-round would mean losing an extra hour of daylight in the evenings for eight months in the United States.

A Salute to Early Adopters

In 1908, the Canadian city of Thunder Bay — then two cities, Fort William and Port Arthur — switched from the central time zone to the eastern time zone for the summer and fall after a citizen named John Hewitson claimed he could spare an extra hour. Thunder Bay Museum curator/archivist Michael deJong says daylight is enough to enjoy the outdoors.

But the following year, Port Arthur remained on Eastern time, while Fort William moved back to central time in the fall, which predictably “caused all kinds of confusion,” deJong says.

Today, the city of Thunder Bay is on eastern time, and daylight saving time provides the area with “delightfully warm, long days to enjoy” during the summer months, says Paul Pepe, tourism manager for the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.

Located on Lake Superior, the city is far enough north that the sun sets around 10 p.m. in the summer, which helps compensate for cold, dark winters, Pepe says. Residents tend to go on vacation in the winter and stay home in the summer, he says: “I think for a lot of people here, it’s long days, warm summer temperatures, a vacation in your backyard.”


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