What Time Is It?


Cate Heverin

Every year, Americans and several other countries turn their clocks back in October and forward in March. Why is it that every year, all American states except for Arizona and Hawaii, turn their clocks back? In fact, most western countries turn their clocks back. The answer is simple, the fact that people want more daylight time in the afternoon and in the morning. But, how had such an odd thing, changing time, become the norm in everyday American life.

Many people believe that the modern day daylight savings we practice came from Benjamin Franklin, but other ancient civilizations had the same idea hundreds of years before. For example, Roman water clocks used different scales for different times of the year. But, this way of timing had seemed to be forgotten in Europe after Roman Empire had fell. Instead we would have to wait hundreds or even thousands of years in the future for our annual habit of making sure each and every clock is turned back to become frequent.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay called “An Economic Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”. In this essay, Franklin joked about the way to save light was to get every Parisian up earlier in the morning to use natural lights whether than using candles. But, he hadn’t actually put Daylight Saving Time in effect for us, he had only written about it.

To continue, another person, George Vernon Hudson, proposed that we should use Daylight Saving Times in 1905. He had proposed an idea to The Wellington Philosophical society, to push the clocks back in October and ahead in March. Sadly for Hudson, there was no interest in his topic and his plan was never followed through. Similar to Hudson, a British builder named William Willet proposed the idea of Daylight Saving Time in 1905 in Britain, but his idea was opposed by many and later denied just like Hudson.

Daylight Saving Time had first began use in Germany during World War I to save energy. After Germany had switched, many other countries such a Britain and the United States switched as well to use less artificial light. Daylight Saving Time was later stopped but continued again during World War II where it has been continued ever since.

This practice was introduced to the United States by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and was used to support effort during World War I. Although, this practice would not be continued and was later stopped in most cities in the United States after the war had finished.

Only when World War II rolled around, Daylight Savings became a part of every year to save resources and it has stuck with fellow Americans to this day. States have the ability to exempt from Daylight Savings if they want to. The main reason Daylight saving is still in effect today is that fact that it saves 1,000 barrels of oil each year that would be used for lighting, saved many kids lives walking to school so they would not have to travel in the dark.

Currently Daylight saving time is now in seventy countries worldwide. About a billion people follow the custom of turning your clock back. For all we know, Daylight saving time will continue to be the norm for years and years to come.