For most of the US, it’s almost time to Spring Forward. Daylight Saving Time (DST) returns this weekend, bringing with it a lost hour of sleep.
Despite being observed for over 100 years in the US, the biannual time change has a hazy history, and support for its abolition has been growing.
Often referred to as “springing forward” and “falling back,” DST is the practice of moving the clocks forward one hour in the spring and then moving them back one hour in the fall.
“The general idea is that this allows us all to make better use of natural daylight,” The Old Farmer’s Almanac says.
This year, DST begins in the US on Sunday, March 14 at 2 am, and ends on Sunday, November 7 at 2 am.
While farmers are often pointed to as the founding source of DST, the true roots of the practice lie in an attempt to save energy.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, farmers actually opposed the adoption of DST, arguing that it benefited only urban dwellers and caused them to begin work in darkness.
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The earliest known proposal of “saving” daylight can be credited to Benjamin Franklin, who, in 1784, advocated ringing church bells and firing cannons at the crack of dawn in order to save on the expense of candlelight.
Credits have also been given to George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. Hudson presented the idea in 1895, hoping to have more daylight hours to collect insects.
Englishman William Willet has also been hailed as the father of daylight saving time.
He is said to have concocted the idea in 1907 when he observed that the shutters of houses were closed in the morning despite the sun having risen.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that the widespread adoption of DST came only after World War I.
Countries around the world began to recognize the need to conserve coal, which was used for heating homes.
Germany was the first nation to adopt the practice. England, the United States, and Canada followed suit before the war’s end.