On March 11th at 2AM, the United States will spring an hour forward to officially begin Daylight Saving.
Non-dads everywhere will begrudge the loss of an hour of sleep, while dads across the nation will still get up at the same time somehow. But while we think of Daylight Saving as just a minor inconvenience that reminds us that stoves have clocks that need to be changed, it actually has a rich and interesting history.
So here are some dad-approved facts about Daylight Saving.
1: We First Started Observing Daylight Saving In 1918
Daylight Saving was first established on a Federal level in the 1960s, but it’s been around far longer than that. Back during World War I, in order to conserve fuel, America adhered to a Daylight Saving schedule, which was called “Fast Time.” It was not popular, and Congress ended up overriding President Wilson’s veto to abolish DST once the war ended. It still popped up in certain regional areas, and during World War II, but while a federal standard didn’t come about until 1966, the idea behind Daylight Saving is much older. In fact…
2: Ben Franklin Was The First To Suggest It
In 1784, while in France, Ben Franklin wrote an essay called “An Economical Project.” In it, he suggested changing the time in order to maximize sunshine and save money. But it wasn’t a serious suggestion. The article itself was largely to poke fun of “lazy” French people who “wasted” sunlight by sleeping in. It wasn’t until later that the idea was proposed with a straight face, and even then it took quite some time for Daylight Saving to first appear around the world.
Oh, and for those of you who are a bit confused why we’re calling it Daylight Saving, instead of Daylight Savings with an s…
3: It’s Called Daylight Saving, Not Savings
Yup. We know that you want to call it Daylight Savings, but that’s not the name. It is Daylight Saving Time. And yes, your dad will correct you if you get it wrong.
4: We Spend Only 4 Months a Year Observing “Standard Time.”
Another interesting fact about Daylight Saving Time is that we spend most of the year saving daylight. Even though you’d assume that standard time would be just, you know, most of the time, that is not the case. We only are in standard time for the four winter months between November and March. The rest of the time, we’re in daylight saving time.
Well, most of us. That’s because…
5: Not All States Change Their Clocks
Daylight Saving is not a legal requirement, more of a gentle suggestion. As a result, while most states would rather be on the same general clock as the rest of the country, you don’t have to. So Hawaii and large parts of Arizona have decided to forgo daylight saving. Sure, it might make it extremely confusing to try to figure out what time your flight to either of those states would land, but that’s their choice, and they’re sticking with it.
6: We Have Daylight Saving to Save Energy (But It Actually Might Waste Energy)
Many a dad and grandad will talk about President Carter and the energy crisis as the reasoning behind Daylight Saving. And that’s largely because in the 1970s, during the Energy Crisis (ask your dad about it, he has stories) we experimented with keeping Daylight Saving Time year round. The experiment didn’t keep, but the concept that we save energy by changing our clocks persisted. Even though it might not be true. There are studies that show that we use 1%-4% more energy with Daylight Saving, largely because the amount we save on lighting is offset by the extra air conditioning we use. The jury’s still out on that one.
7: It’s At 2AM Because Of Trains
If you think that the decision to change times on clocks at 2AM seems arbitrary, you’d be only somewhat correct. It actually makes sense, if you’re a train conductor. By setting the time at 2AM, there’s no chance that trains departures scheduled for one day are suddenly pushed back to the previous day. Though, Daylight Saving still does affect your train ride. In order to keep on schedule, all Amtrak trains stop moving for a full hour when the clocks spring forward in order to minimize any confusing arrival times.
8: Daylight Saving Ends in November Because of Candy Lobbyists
Daylight Saving didn’t always go from March to November. In fact, it used to end on the last weekend of October. This was bad news for candy companies, who want that extra hour of sunlight during one of their biggest holidays of the year: Halloween. So in 2007, the date got pushed back, and now children can trick-or-treat for an hour longer, which is welcome news for candy lobbyists.
But of course, the most important fun fact about Daylight Saving is that…well, it’s on March 11th. Don’t forget, because your dad almost certainly will when he goes into work an hour late the following Monday.