Day Light Saving Time
THE HISTORY OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
Does changing the clocks really provide benefits? We’ll let you be the judge.
WHAT IS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME?
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of moving the clocks forward one hour from Standard Time during the summer months, and changing them back again in the fall. The general idea is that this allows us all to make better use of natural daylight. However, DST has many detractors.
Note that the term is “Daylight Saving Time” and not “Daylight Savings Time” (with an extra “s” at the end of “Saving”), though many of us are guilty of saying it the wrong way! The technical explanation is that the word “saving” is singular because it acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb.
Benjamin Franklin’s “An Economical Project,” written in 1784, is the earliest known proposal to “save” daylight. It was whimsical in tone, advocating laws to compel citizens to rise at the crack of dawn to save the expense of candlelight:
“Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards effectually… . Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable that he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”
DST’S TRUE FOUNDER?
The first true proponent of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman named William Willet. A London builder, he conceived the idea while riding his horse early one morning in 1907. He noticed that the shutters of houses were tightly closed even though the Sun had risen. In “The Waste of Daylight,” the manifesto of his personal light-saving campaign, Willet wrote, “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shrinkage as the days grow shorter; and nearly everyone has given utterance to a regret that the nearly clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used…. That so many as 210 hours of daylight are, to all intents and purposes, wasted every year is a defect in our civilization. Let England recognize and remedy it.”
Willet spent a small fortune lobbying businessmen, members of Parliament, and the U.S. Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. But his proposal was met mostly with ridicule. One community opposed it on moral grounds, calling the practice the sin of “lying” about true time.