6 Things to Know About the History of Daylight Saving
Turning our clocks forward may seem easy enough, but the history of saving daylight is filled with more surprises than you might think.
1. You may have been referring to daylight saving wrong.
For our grammar junkies out there, you might have already noticed, but it’s “daylight saving time” and not “daylight savings time.” Almost everyone uses “savings” instead of the singular word and it makes sense since we refer to our saving accounts as “savings account.” As the time to roll back time comes closer, keep this point in mind if you want to impress.
2. Benjamin Franklin didn’t actually invent daylight saving
While Franklin may have been an advocate of waking up a little later than normal in the spring, he didn’t come up with the idea of changing the actual time. He was woken up by the sun at 6am during the summer and was inspired to write an essay about the advantages Parisians could have if they woke up at dawn. He called it “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” Because of this essay, we have given Franklin the credit for daylight saving–but, since he only proposed waking up a little earlier, this honor is given to another man.
3. Englishman William Willet was the first to propose daylight saving time.
Willet had his epiphany that inspired daylight saving while on an early-morning horseback ride in 1905. He thought the UK could move clocks forward 80 minutes between April and October so people could enjoy the sunlight longer. Willet used the rest of his life to try and bring daylight saving to life but unfortunately died before it was enacted, since the British Parliament wasn’t as excited about the idea as he was.
4. Germany was the first country to enact daylight saving.
World War I gave Germany the push to use daylight saving on April 30, 1916. Willet probably would have been upset to know that Britain’s wartime enemy used his idea before his home country, but the UK followed suit weeks later and introduced “summer time.”
5. Daylight saving was not intended to benefit farmers in the U.S.
The agriculture industry was actually opposed to turning back clocks in 1918. The sun, not the clock, is useful to farmers, so when the change was implemented, farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate from their hay, workers worked less since they still left at the same time at the end of the day, and the timing for milking cows was thrown off since they weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier. Urban society, and war-time efficiency was the biggest fan of saving daylight and has continued to be throughout history.
6. Not everyone in the U.S. springs forward.
Hawaii and Arizona don’t observe daylight saving, along with the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. Amish communities throughout the country choose not to participate in the time change either. Worldwide, 70 countries spring forward and fall back, which is only a quarter of the world’s population. Countries close to the equator have no need to change the time since daylight hours don’t vary greatly.
Don’t forget these daylight saving time trivia tidbits and remember to spring forward on March 12th!