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On November 6, 2022, most North Americans will mark the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) by moving the clocks back an hour. The simple action will help shift daylight back into the morning during the shorter winter days. It will also add an extra 60 minutes to the weekend!
The German Empire was the first to manipulate the clocks in 1916. The army wanted to conserve the fuel needed to produce weapons and bombs for World War I. The US and Britain adopted the practice shortly after. All the countries reverted to Standard Time once the war ended, only to reinstate DST again during World War II. US officials repealed DST nationally when the war ended in 1945. But states and districts were allowed to continue the tradition and even select their own start and stop DST dates.
This resulted in what Time Magazine called a "chaos of clocks." By 1965, Iowa had 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates. St. Paul, Minnesota, began daylight saving two weeks earlier than its twin city Minneapolis, Minnesota, just nine miles away. Meanwhile, passengers on a 35-mile bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, passed through seven time changes!
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 ended the confusion by setting the same "spring forward" and "fall back" dates for the entire nation. But the law was not compulsory. Hawaii, most of Arizona, and the US territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands — did not adopt DST.
The DST dates were initially set for the last Sundays in April and October. However, in 1986, US president Ronald Reagan changed the DST start date to the first Sunday in April. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 moved up the DST start date further to the second Sunday in March. It also extended out the "fall back" date to the first Sunday in November.
The clock manipulation is not very popular. Many people believe the disruption in sleep patterns caused by the time change harms the elderly or those with serious illnesses. Studies have found a slight increase in heart attacks on the "spring forward" Sunday when we "lose" an hour. The time change is also believed to cause more driving and workplace accidents.
In 2019, the European Union voted to permanently remove the age-old custom of changing clocks. But the law has yet to be implemented. In March 2022, the US Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act to make DST permanent. The bill is currently being debated by the House of Representatives. If passed, the last clock change in the US will occur with a "spring forward" in March 2023.
Happy "Fall Back!"
Resources: Wikipedia.org, History.com, Nationalgeographic.com