Most of us will lose an hour of sleep this weekend, thanks to Daylight Saving Time (DTS). While losing precious sleep is a grim thought, we know it’s worth the extra sunlight and extended days we’ll enjoy all spring and summer. But it got us thinking, how did DST get started?
A common misnomer about DST is that it was created by farmers to maximize harvest time.And while ancient civilization did use modified schedules to make better use of daylight, Thunder Bay, Canada, was the first location to formally adopt DST in 1908.
Germany was the first country to implement DST on a national scale in 1916. This was done to preserve fuel for the war effort during World War I. The United Kingdom and France quickly followed suit, as did many other European countries. The United States first adopted “Fast Time” as it was then called, in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law, also to support the World War I effort. Fast Time was repealed a mere seven months later.
Most reverted back to Standard Time following the end of WWI. It wasn't until World War II that DST returned.
In 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced year-round DST to support the war effort during World War II. “War Time” as it was called then, ran from February 9, 1942, to September 30, 1945. During this time US time zones were called “Eastern War Time,” “Central War Time,” “Mountain War Time” and “Pacific War Time.”
For some reason this makes me think of “Hammer Time.” #CantTouchThis
From 1945 to 1966 there were no standardized rules for DST in the United States. This lack of standardization caused great confusion within broadcasting and transportation. During this time travelers on the 35-mile bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, would venture through seven different time changes. Seven.
Congress established The Uniform Time Act of 1966 to standardize when DST would begin and end. States could exempt themselves from DST by passing state ordinances. Only Arizona and Hawaii choose to be different.
Back to that misconception that farmers were the main driving force behind DST. In fact, agriculture was sternly opposed to DST. Farmers operated off the sun, not the hands of a clock. They had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate before harvesting certain crops. Fieldhands still had to be released at the same time for dinner yet couldn't start an hour earlier due to darkness.
DST is a controversial topic to this day. Many cite energy savings as a reason to maintain DST, while others say starting the morning in darkness is a safety risk, especially to children on their way to school. Regardless of your position, come April 13th we are all going to need a little extra coffee (and maybe a nip of whiskey).
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