The Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks during the summer months with the goal of saving energy and taking advantage of the waking hours.
History of the Daylight Saving Time (DST)
While former US President Benjamin Franklin floated the idea of resetting clocks to conserve energy, many contend that the concept of DST came from him. In fact, it wasn’t until 1918 when the United States started adopting the DST.
Then Whose Idea was the DST?
In a paper they presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1895, scientist George Vernon Hudson from New Zealand and British builder William Willet proposed adjusting clocks forward by two hours in October, then shifting them back two hours in March. While the idea gained interest, it wasn’t adopted.
In 1905, Willett then proposed to set clocks in advance by 20 minutes on the Sundays in April, then switch them back to the standard time on the Sundays in September. This idea caught the interest of British Parliament member Robert Pearce, leading to the draft of the Daylight Saving Bill in 1909. The bill was presented to the Parliament several times, but many opposed the idea, especially farmers. Eventually, the United Kingdom began practising DST in 1916. Unfortunately, Willett died the year prior.
Port Arthur (known today as Thunder Bay), a small town in Ontario, also started using DST seven years before Willet died, but it isn’t known if Willett was aware of it. Other Canadian areas, including Winnipeg, Regina in Saskatchewan, and Brandon in Manitoba, also adopted the DST in 1916.
DST During the World War I
Two years into the first World War, European countries, specifically Germany and its ally, Austria, set their clocks ahead by one hour in April 1916. The main purpose of this move was to save fuel by minimising the use of artificial light as they prepare for war. Countries like France and the United Kingdom followed suit. These countries then reverted to the standard time when the World War I ended.
DST in Current Times
Today, over 70 countries are implementing DST. However, the start and end dates vary based on the country’s location. In countries in the Northern Hemisphere, like the USA and Canada, clocks are adjusted one hour ahead either in March or April and then set back to the standard time when September or October comes. Meanwhile, in Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia and southern Africa, DST begins sometime between September and November and ends in March or April.