The History of Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings is this weekend, and we are springing forward! We may be losing an hour of sleep, but it means we’re one hour closer to spring blossoms and summer nights.

While most clocks will automatically spring forward these days, be sure to check items such as kitchen appliances and older vehicles. It’s always worth the small inconvenience to figure out how to change the time on these clocks—don’t be one of those people who leave it until autumn when we gain the hour back.

Why do we practice daylight savings? The main reason is to conserve energy. By setting our clocks ahead we gain more daylight hours in the spring and summer, which means less artificial light is needed during waking hours. To offset this adjustment, we lose an hour of daylight in the fall and winter, when people aren’t out and about as much, anyways.

A version of Daylight Savings Time (commonly referred to as DST) was first used by the Romans. Time and Date writes, “the Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year to adjust the daily schedules to the solar time.” In more modern times, we can thank “New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson… In 1895, Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society, proposing a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March. There was interest in the idea, but it was never followed through.”

DST was first officially used in Thunder Bay, Ontario! On July 1st, 1908 residents set their clocks forward by one hour in what quickly became a town-wide bylaw. Later, Germany instituted DST during WW1 to help conserve fuel for the war efforts. The rest of the world slowly but surely caught on, and “daylight Saving Time is now used in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over one billion people every year. The beginning and end dates vary from one country to another.”

Happy Daylight Savings! We may be losing an hour of sleep this weekend, but in the long run we will gain so much more.

Posted by Ken Richter on


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