In just six more days, on March 11th, we’ll get to bask in an extra hour of sunlight after setting our clocks forward and entering into Daylight Savings Time. It’s an odd yearly ritual some of us humans have been participating in for about 100 years. And some of you may still be wondering: why do we have Daylight Savings Time (DST) to begin with?
Although America’s own Benjamin Franklin is attributed to the idea of implementing Daylight Savings Time, he was not the first person to enact the time switch. It was the Germans, in 1916, who got the DST ball rolling. According to Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, via Time.com, on May 1st, 1916, a German policy pushed the clocks forward an hour in an effort to save fuel energy during World War I.
The Germans got their idea from Brit William Willet, who, in 1907, published The Waste of Daylight. Through this piece of writing, Willet expressed his confusion as to why people sleep in the early hours of sunlight and are then left to spend their leisure time in the darkness.
He lobbied Parliament for a Daylight Savings Time-like policy, in order for the public to experience more sunlight during their day-to-day. Willet sadly passed before he was able to see his idea put into practice.
The United States adopted Daylight Savings in 1918 for the same reason as Germany — to save fuel during wartime. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also found DST useful to boost the U.S. economy. The later it stayed lighter, the more time Americans would have to shop at their local establishments.
Many like to say that the farmers were also big advocates of DST, due to the fact that more daylight meant more time to work. But in actuality, farmers disliked the time change because there was less sunlight in the morning when they need to feed their livestock and begin daily chores.
In fact, Daylight Savings Time was so unliked by rural laborers that Congress repealed DST in order to keep a farm lobby revolt at bay. The time change was later reinforced during World War II, again with the intention to save fuel. Presidents since have wavered between enforcing it and not enforcing it.
Since 2005, the U.S. observes 8 months of DST each year.
Of course, now in modern times, we have to wonder if Daylight Savings Time is actually necessary anymore. Does it still save us energy? According to Time.com, no, not really. Conflicting reports have shown that Daylight Savings Time might reduce energy usage but may also contribute to more energy usage. Hmm…so what’s the point?
Many places around the world have stopped observing Daylight Savings Time, including some in the U.S. (shoutout to Arizona, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico). Perhaps in the future, Daylight Savings Time will be abolished. But for now, we’ll savor every second of that one extra hour.