Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., which means it’s time to turn clocks one hour forward.
Why do we do this annual ritual, and how did it get started?
The following are 10 surprising facts about daylight saving time that you might not know.
• Daylight saving time was not created to help farmers. According to Michael Downing, who wrote the book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, farmers opposed the time change because they needed the sun to dry the dew off crops before they could be picked and taken to market. Also, cows needed to be milked every 12 hours regardless of the time.
• It’s daylight saving time, not daylight savings time.
• Benjamin Franklin did not invent daylight saving time. Although Franklin opined on the concept of daylight saving time, it was first instituted by Germany on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I. A 2016 Congressional Research Service report says the time change wasn’t adopted in the U.S. until 1918 with the bill “An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States.”
• Daylight saving time was a hotly contested idea and was abolished after World War I in the U.S. It became a state option until 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt instituted “War Time”, which was year-round daylight saving time. That ended after the war and for many years, cities and counties were allowed to make their own decisions on daylight saving time. That meant several towns in the same state could be on different schedules.
• In 1966, Congress approved the Uniform Time Act, which included a requirement that clocks be set ahead one hour beginning at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in April and turned back one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. States were allowed to exempt themselves from the requirement as long as the entire state did so.
• Arizona, Hawaii Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands stay on standard time year round.
• The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the beginning of daylight saving time to the second Sunday in March with the ending date being the first Sunday in November. The extension means daylight saving time exists for eight months, while standard time is 4-months long.
• Downing said a Boston-area businessman, Lincoln Filene may have been the driving force for the first enactment of daylight saving time. Filene owned a chain of department stores and hoped that more daylight at the end of the day would encourage shopping. He put together a report that outlined 10 reasons why Daylight Saving Time was a good idea.
• Fans of daylight saving time also included sports and recreation industries who originally saw benefits in later start times for games when there was no artificial lighting of fields. According to Downing, the biggest opponents were the movie industry, “because people were much less likely to go into dark theaters when it was bright outside,” and farmers.
• The National Association of Convenience Stores supported the extension to 8 months of daylight saving time, not because of an increase in shopping, but because people drive more after work, meaning they must fill up their tanks more often, Downing said.