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A Short History of Daylight Saving Time: Tell Your Kids it Has Nothing to Do with Farming!

Daylight Savings TIme

Daylight Savings TIme

In passing, I mentioned to my five-year-old daughter that this weekend would bring daylight saving time. She looked at me with a blank stare and asked “what’s that.”

I patiently explained the process and how we all change our clocks back, that this happens once a year and for her, it will mean that she’ll be getting up an hour earlier to go to school. She gave me another blank stare and simply asked “why.”  She wanted an answer, and she wanted it now. All I had was a vague recollection that it had to do with farming way back in the day but it turned out, I was totally wrong!

First, some credit Benjamin Franklin as having invented Daylight Savings Time as a way to conserve candles.  But his “proposal” was actually a piece of satire he wrote about those partying Parisians.

Daylight Savings Time was actually first introduced in 1895 by a guy named George Vernon Hudson from New Zealand. He was an entomologist and wanted more daylight hours in which to collect bugs. And in England in 1905 the English builder and sportsman William Willet proposed the change because he wanted more time to play golf. Both men had papers published about changing the clocks back and got a whole lot of attention. But it took a while before the practice was actually adopted.

Germany and its’ World War 1 allies were the first to utilize daylight savings time back in 1916 and it was done as a way to conserve coal during wartime. Soon the United Kingdom and a large part of Europe jumped on the daylight savings bandwagon.  Here is the good old U.S. of A, we started using Daylight Savings Time in 1918.

In its’ inception, Daylight Saving Time was basically a way to have more leisure time to enjoy the summer sun and to hunt bugs like Hudson or play golf like Willet and has nothing to do with farming as many of us think. But one reason why many countries do support the practice is as a way to conserve energy. As for farmers, it turns out that Daylight Savings time is actually more inconvenient for them. There is a much distributed quote that says,Farmers, who must wake with the sun no matter what time their clock says, are greatly inconvenienced by having to change their schedule in order to sell their crops to people who observe daylight saving time.”

Did you believe the myth that Daylight Saving Time was started for the farming industry?

Image : Flickr by Chad

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