What could be better than Halloween falling on a Saturday? How about an "extra" hour on Sunday? That will be the case for most North American residents because this weekend also marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST). This means that on Sunday, November 1st, residents will add an extra 60 minutes to their day by simply moving back the clocks.
The first person to think of manipulating the clocks to conserve energy by taking advantage of natural light was Benjamin Franklin. In 1784, the American inventor and politician wrote an essay to the editor of the Journal of Paris in which he jokingly suggested changing the clocks to save candles.
However, while Mr. Franklin was being flippant, New Zealand resident George Hudson was serious when he proposed it in 1895. In fact in his paper presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society, the entomologist suggested a two-hour shift forward and back. Unfortunately, his idea was not considered seriously either. Nor was the one proposed by British resident William Willett in 1907.
It was not until Germany voted Daylight Saving Time into law in April 1916 to reduce the use of artificial lighting and save fuel during World War I, that others took notice.
Three weeks after the war ended in 1945, the U.S. once again repealed National Daylight Saving Time. However, States and localities were allowed to continue the tradition and even start and stop at their discretion.
Not surprisingly this resulted in what Time magazine aptly referred to as a "chaos of clocks.' By 1965, the state of Iowa alone had 23 different pairs of start and end DST dates!
To end the confusion, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. It stated that for those that wanted to keep the tradition, DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Hawaii and some cities in Arizona decided it was unnecessary and opted out.
While the other States and many countries worldwide continue to observe DST, it is not without controversy, at least in the United States. Many residents believe it serves no purpose other than disrupting their mental clocks and adversely affecting their health.
However, efforts to get DST abolished have not succeeded because lawmakers and businesses believe it helps the economy. The Golf Alliance of Utah states that repealing DST would reduce play time by 6% and set back the state's income by at least $24 million!
Fortunately, the news is not all dire for DST opponents. Thanks to former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, DST start and stop dates have been changed several times. As a result, the dreary dark winter days have been cut by almost five weeks!
Happy Fall Back! Don't forget to change your clocks before going to bed on October 31st.
Resources: timeanddate.com, history.com