While on an early-morning horseback ride around the London countryside in 1905, a man named William Willett had an epiphany. He thought that the United Kingdom should move its clocks ahead by 80 minutes between the months of April and October so that more people could enjoy the sunlight. In 1907, Willett published his thoughts in The Waste of Daylight. He wrote, “the sun shines upon the land for several hours each day while we are asleep” and yet there “remains only a brief spell of declining daylight in which to spend the short period of leisure at our disposal.” He did mention that energy could be saved (fewer hours to keep the lights on), but his primary desire was to enjoy more time in the sunlight. He lobbied Parliament for legislation until his death in 1915—not living to see the law passed.
According to Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, the first daylight saving time policy began in Germany in 1916 in the hopes that it would save energy during World War I. Even though the Germans were first to officially implement daylight saving time, they likely got the idea from the British.
Contrary to popular belief, daylight saving time had nothing to do with farmers. In fact, farmers deeply opposed daylight saving time. Farming tasks are dictated by the sun, not the clock, so daylight saving time was very disruptive. Farmworkers ended up working less since they still left at the same time for dinner each night and the cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier which interrupted shipping schedules.
The first U.S. law on Daylight Saving Time went into effect in 1918 for the same energy saving reasons. Many laws related to daylight saving time have come and gone over the years, but it’s still a real thing for many of us here in the U.S. to this day.
- The correct term is “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.” Since the word “saving” acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb, the singular “saving” is grammatically correct.
- Not all states observe daylight saving time. Hawaii and Arizona are the two exceptions.
- During the 1970s energy crisis, Congress ordered all states to go on daylight saving time year-round between January 1974 and April 1975.
- Time.com – The Real Reason Why Daylight Saving Time Is a Thing
- History.com – 8 Things You May Not Know About Daylight Saving Time
- USAToday.com – 10 things you didn’t know about daylight saving time