Do you know why we “spring forward” in March and “fall back” in November?
Thanks to the researchers at history.com, we can learn some common misconceptions about this semi-annual time change and learn why we adopted the practice.
1. It’s “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.”
Many people render the term’s second word in its plural form. However, since the word “saving” acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb, the singular is grammatically correct.
2. Englishman William Willett led the first campaign to implement daylight saving time.
While on an early morning horseback ride around the desolate outskirts of London in 1905, Willett had an epiphany that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. The Englishman published the 1907 brochure “The Waste of Daylight” and spent much of his personal fortune evangelizing with missionary zeal for the adoption of “summer time.” Year after year, however, the British Parliament stymied the measure, and Willett died in 1915 at age 58 without ever seeing his idea come to fruition.
3. Germany was the first country to enact daylight saving time.
It took World War I for Willett’s dream to come true, but on April 30, 1916, Germany embraced daylight saving time to conserve electricity. (He may have been horrified to learn that Britain’s wartime enemy followed his recommendations before his homeland.) Weeks later, the United Kingdom followed suit and introduced “summer time.”
4. Not everyone in the United States springs forward and falls back.
Hawaii and Arizona—with the exception of the state’s Navajo Nation—do not observe daylight saving time, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands also remain on standard time year-round. Some Amish communities also choose not to participate in daylight saving time. (Around the world, only about one-quarter of the world’s population, in approximately 70 countries, observe daylight saving. Since their daylight hours don’t vary much from season to season, countries closer to the equator have little need to deviate from standard time.)
5. Daylight saving time in the United States was not intended to benefit farmers, as many people think.
Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive.