There are a lot of different opinions on who should be honored (or blamed) for the idea of Daylight Saving Time, why it was created, and why the U.S. currently observes it, and it’s honestly a lot to process. Frankly, I’m not confident you’ll reach the end of this article with the answers about Daylight Saving Time you were hoping to find, but you’ll definitely know more about the history of the observance than you do at this exact moment. There are some people who fully support and advocate for the practice, and then there are others who think it should be repealed. No matter what side you take on the great DST debate, here are the facts about it’s history, meaning, and the surprising amount of people who take part in the tradition.
A Succession of Creators
There’s a lot of disagreement about who should be granted the title of “creator” for the concept of Daylight Saving Time. Most sources claim it was Benjamin Franklin who had the original idea. While visiting Paris, France in the 1700’s, Franklin became upset that he was still asleep even though the sun had already risen. He proposed that people wake up earlier in order to optimize their time with the sun, which would cut down the time people had to use candles and therefore help preserve precious wax.
Other sources recognize the creator as a man named George Hudson from New Zealand. Hudson proposed two hour shifts in time during October and March in a paper in 1895, but unfortunately for him, nothing ever culminated from his idea.
There are also reports that an Englishman named William Willett was the first person to seriously campaign for the time change and should be credited as the true creator. He published “The Waste of Daylight” in 1907 advocating for the change, but died before his home country of the United Kingdom adopted the practice in 1916.
It’s hard to determine who should be given the title of ‘Daylight Saving Time creator’, since it seems Franklin came up with the initial idea, Hudson proposed the two hour shifts in October and March, and Willett was the first advocate to bring the concept to light for many.
Why Daylight Saving Time Exists
Again, there are a lot of differing opinions about why this observance happens. Centuries ago it was claimed to give more people time in the daylight so they could preserve candle wax, as stated earlier, but that’s not even remotely a concern of society nowadays, so what gives?
It’s argued that daylight saving time conserves electricity usage around the country since time with the sun is maximized. According to one study, during the first week of a time change, electricity consumption in the evening drops around 5%. Other arguments include that with the extra daylight hours in the evening, people are more inclined to go out and spend money. Nobody wants to leave their house once it gets dark, but when it’s sunny out? Why not go to a restaurant or go shopping! What seems to be pretty consistent is that on April 30, 1916, Germany became the first nation to embrace Daylight Saving Time in order to conserve electricity.
Most of the U.S. has accepted the fact that Daylight Saving Time is real and even if you think it’s annoying, you have to oblige to it. However, there are a few states that straight up refuse. Both Hawaii and Arizona do not observe the time change, along with some U.S. territories in the caribbean. You may be thinking “woah these people are crazy for going against the grain like that!” but in actuality, less than 40% of the world’s population observes daylight saving time… which makes the other 48 states the weird ones. The territories’ reasoning behind their resistance is that the number of hours they have daylight doesn’t vary between seasons, so it’s unnecessary to change time. It’s a fair point, but the internal and external inconsistencies throughout the world leave everyone more confused about DST than not.
Daylight Saving Time has been a mystery to many for far too long, and maybe the confusion of it’s history contributes to that. Fortunately for you, you can go forth and spread the knowledge you now have about the tradition and many explanations of DST! Be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour this Sunday or if you’d rather not deal with the hassle of it all, move to Arizona or Hawaii.
According to a 2014 Rasmussen Report, only 43% of the population thinks there’s still a need for Daylight Saving Time, but what do you think? Do you welcome the time change? Or do you see it as a nuisance? Tell us your thoughts below!