Changing Times: Daylight Savings Time 'Falls Back' This Weekend, But How Did It Come to Pass

Daylight Saving Time ends in the United States at 2 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 2. That means that if you don’t stay up until 2 a.m., you’re going to want to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night before you go to bed. Otherwise, you will miss that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Please note that the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t participate in DST, but for the rest of us, this is the “fall back” weekend.

The reason for Daylight Saving Time is somewhat obscure. Some say it is practiced in an effort to save energy, but that argument has been called into question. Nonetheless, here’s a little insight into the history of DST for true time junkies.

Some credit the concept to American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who, in a 1784 essay entitled "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," suggested people get out of bed earlier in the morning to use the light instead of candles.

More than a century later, in 1895, a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, who liked to collect insects in his free time, wanted more daylight time for his studies, so he presented a report to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight savings time program. Though the concept wasn’t embraced internationally, it laid the groundwork. A decade later, in 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea of DST, suggesting setting clocks ahead in April and switching them back in September. His idea caught the attention of Robert Pearce, who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The concept was opposed by farmers in England and did not pass. In 1916, Germany was the first country to implement DST and several countries followed suit, including America.

In the United States after World War II, states could select if they wanted to impose DST and on which dates. However, mass confusion caused Congress to establish the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which set a protocol for DST times/dates. Still, some U.S. states/territories don’t participate, and argue the usefulness of it. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of DST in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Additionally, while it is recognized around the world, not all countries practice DST, and those that do, do so on different dates. At any rate, here we are in the “Fall Back” portion of the “Spring Forward, Fall Back” DST concept. So don’t forget to change your clocks and your watches.

Daylight Savings Time image: karenroach/Bigstockphoto.com