On Sunday, March 12, most Americans will ‘lose’ an hour by moving their clocks forward sixty minutes. This small sacrifice that marks the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is designed to allow residents to enjoy longer days during the upcoming spring and summer months.
The idea to manipulate clocks was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. In a letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris, the American inventor and politician jokingly suggested it as a way to economize candle usage. However, George Vernon Hudson was serious when he recommended moving the clocks two hours every spring and winter in 1895. The New Zealand entomologist and astronomer’s proposal was driven by his desire to have extra time to devote to collecting and examining insects. Though the idea did receive some serious consideration in 1907 when British resident William Willett presented it as a way to save energy, it was never implemented.
It was not until April 30, 1916, during World War I that Germany finally enforced DST to give soldiers additional daylight hours for combat Britain and America adopted it shortly after. However, US lawmakers repealed the law as soon as the war ended, only to reinstate and repeal it again during World War II.
It took another 21 years before DST became a permanent fixture on the American calendar in April 1966. US officials passed the law to help conserve energy and provide farmers more daylight hours to transport fresh produce to markets. However, since the law was not binding, Hawaii, the US territories which include — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and US Virgin Islands — as well as most of Arizona, opted out.
The US is not the only country to observe DST. However, most other nations change more…