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Oregon Family Magazine

Spring Forward

03/03/2023 ● By Pam Molnar
Daylight Saving Time will be observed this year from March 12th to November 5th, allowing us to make better use of the natural daylight. Over the past 100 years, Daylight Saving Time has seen several changes in how it has been observed. Who knew that an hour could make such a difference in our lives?

1. By the way, the word Saving is not plural. I know. It was admittedly a surprise for me, too. Many people refer to the springtime change as daylight savings time, but that is not correct. 

2. President Woodrow Wilson signed Fast Time, the original Daylight Saving Time, into law in 1918 in support of the war effort. Seven months later, the law was repealed. While some believe the time was moved forward to help the farmers get more work done during the daytime hours, they were opposed to the change. Farmers are more dependent on the sun rising and setting as the livestock cannot read a clock. Some larger cities like Boston and New York chose to keep Fast Time as it was better for retailers and urban dwellers. Unfortunately, this lack of uniformity would get worse before it got better.

3. Although the United States has been the first to implement many new ideas, the changing of the clocks to make better use of daylight was not one of them. In 1916, Germany turned their clocks ahead one hour in the hopes of saving fuel during World War I. A similar plan was brought to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom in 1908, but it was not signed into law until 1916.

4. During WWII, President Roosevelt instituted the use of Daylight Saving Time again. It was not the seasonal time change we have today, but rather a year-round adjustment that lasted from 1942 to 1945. In 1966, The Uniform Time Act was established, instituting the season time change which would run from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. The irony of the Uniform Time Act was that states were allowed to exempt themselves to set up their own ordinances. 

5. So why do we change the time at 2:00 a.m. instead of midnight? There are several reasons for this. First, changing the time at midnight would push us to 11:00 p.m. the evening before, creating more confusion. Secondly, 2:00 a.m. was thought to be minimally disruptive while still allowing the entire continental United States to change to Daylight Saving Time before daybreak. In the European Union, however, the entire country changes to Summer Time at the same moment – 1:00 a.m. Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time).

6. Even today, after almost 100 years of trying to make the most of our daylight, some of the states in the U.S. do not observe Daylight Saving Time. Hawaii, with its beautiful weather, just doesn’t need it. Arizona also does not observe Daylight Saving Time, except for Navajo Nation. Until 2006, most of Indiana did not observe Daylight Saving Time but rather left it up to the counties. 

7. Daylight Saving Time is observed in some way in 70 countries across the globe. Most countries near the equator do not participate, as well as most of Africa and Asia. Antarctica experiences 24 hours of sunlight during the summer months, making Daylight Saving Time pointless. However, they chose to follow it to synchronize their time zone with other stations that do observe Daylight Saving Time. In Australia, most of the continent uses Daylight Saving Time, while parts, like Queensland and Western Australia have chosen not to observe. Most of Canada observes Daylight Saving Time, with exceptions in a few regions across the country. 

8. Can Daylight Saving Time change birth order? A unique concern about the birth order of twins was brought up during the United Kingdom’s early use of Summer Time. If a woman gave birth to one twin at 1:55 a.m. on the morning of the clock change and 2:05 a.m. (after the time change) for the second twin, on paper, the second twin is older. As strange as it sounds, that did happen to a mother in Massachusetts in 2016.

9.  Last spring, in 2022, the U.S. Senate passed The Sunshine Act, which meant a permanent change to Daylight Saving Time. Unfortunately, the U.S. House did not approve it. Perhaps it is because the U.S. already tried a permanent Daylight Saving Time in 1973. The early morning darkness by January proved more of a danger to school children than a savings of energy. Our clocks were returned to a 6-month period of Daylight Saving and 6 months Standard Time.

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