Daylight Saving Time

As I dragged my butt out of bed this morning to make sure the son was up and getting ready for school, I wondered, why do we bother with Daylight Saving Time, anyway? I always thought it was to help farmers take advantage of daylight hours to get their planting done in the spring and reverted back when the crops needed to be brought in from the fields but, if you really think about it, that doesn’t make much sense when you think about Saskatchewan, which doesn’t change its times and has the largest percentage of farmers in the country.  Curious, I had to know the real reason why I lost that hour’s sleep yesterday and was still feeling its effects, today.

As it turns out, the farming thing wasn’t the reason at all! Then, I wondered who thought of the idea first? I needed someone to blame for my bleary eyes, this morning! Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I thought it was Benjamin Franklin who was the culprit. It turns out, I was wrong again! Although he did write a snarky letter to a Parisian newspaper back in 1784 about changing their clocks to save on candles, it was not taken very seriously.

Since I have been communicating with bloggers from all over the world, I began to wonder whether DST was practiced anywhere but North America, so I decided to look that up, as well. I was very surprised to learn that it wasn’t an American or Canadian who had started it all, but a New Zealander named G. V. Hudson. He was a shift worker who valued his off-time daylight hours and proposed a 2-hour time shift in a paper he wrote to the Wellington Philosophical Society back in 1895. An Englishman, William Willet, independently conceived of the idea in 1905, but did not publish his proposal until two years later. Robert Pierce, the Prime Minister at the time, introduced the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons in 1908, but it did not become law at that time. Apparently, Willet continued to lobby for the proposal until his death in 1915.

It wasn’t until the First World War (specifically April 30, 1916) that Germany and its allies adopted the use of DST to conserve coal. Britain, most of its allies and many neutral European countries soon followed suit. Russia and a few other countries started using DST the next year. That same year, Canada (actually the Dominion of Newfoundland) enacted the Daylight Savings Act of 1917 . The United States finally adopted the practice on March 31st, 1918. Over the years, much of the world has practiced the use of DST, but it appears that most Asian countries have abandoned it, as well as most of Africa (a lot of which never used it to begin with).

The dates on which DST begins and ends vary greatly throughout the world. Right now, the US and Canada seem to be leading the pack beginning with the first Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November. These dates were changed back in 2007 and, after living with the previous schedule for almost 50 years, I’m still struggling to deal with the difference.  (Sigh!) You know what they say about old dogs (or sleeping dogs)! Whether it’s learning new tricks or letting them sleep, either would apply to me, today!

If you are interested in learning more interesting facts about Daylight Savings Time, you may find them here or here.

There are other places with information on DST, but I was too tired to check them all out. I’ve probably written more than you wanted to read about it this morning, anyway, so for all you keeners out there, feel free to contradict me (after all, it was Wikipedia where I got the majority of my info!) or add whatever you find interesting about the subject in the comments box! Those of you still on Standard Time, enjoy your sleep!