The history of Daylight Savings Time goes back to World War I and has nothing to do with farmers.
For many Americans, the only purpose of the twice-a-year time change is to remind them how to change the clock on their kitchen microwave ovens.
For others, the time change is a big pain in the butt, and some people want to remove that pain.
When Daylight Savings Time started on March 8 of this year (at 2 a.m., in case you missed it), most Americans just dealt with it. Like the weather, it was something to complain about for a day, as everyone tried to adjust their body clocks accordingly.
But many people took the opportunity to decry the procedure, which in the eyes of many has long outlived its usefulness. Most official complaints suggest actually making Daylight Savings Time permanent, although there are others who want Standard Time to be permanent.
The history of Daylight Savings Time is actually a point of contention for some, with the most widely held but incorrect belief that it has something to do with farmers wanting to get the most use of the day’s daylight hours. In fact, Daylight Savings Time started in Germany during World War I in 1916, and the United States followed suit as a way to save energy.
It is true that Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay on the idea in 1784, noting that a bi-annual change in the clock would allow for most of the dark hours of the day spent sleeping.
Standard Time was established in 1884 worldwide, further establishing all of the world’s time zones. The sun would reach its highest point at noon worldwide, and the day’s sunlight would occur half before noon and half after.
Daylight Savings Time was actually repealed in 1920 after the end of World War I but was reinstituted at the start of World War II, again as a way to save energy costs by conducting business during daylight hours. After World War II, some areas in the United States abandoned Daylight Savings Time, but in 1966 the federal government declared the law unless the entire state opted out.
In 2005, at the urging of President George Bush, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which extended Daylight Savings Time by one month, again with an eye toward saving energy, although many studies have shown that any energy savings (operating again on the assumption that we sleep when it is dark and use less energy when we are doing so) was slight.
There are places in the United States that do not observe Daylight Savings Time: Arizona and Hawaii, Indiana finally adopted it for the entire state in 2006. A couple in Colorado is trying to get a ballot initiative to declare Daylight Savings Time year round in that state. A state senator in Alabama tried to push forth a state amendment this year that would have made Daylight Savings Time permanent but dropped it even though he said he received 90 percent approval from constituents for the idea.
While farmers actually hate the idea of Daylight Savings Time because it changes the body clocks on the farm animals, especially the cows, another industry that hates it is the television industry. With daylight lasting until 8 p.m. at the peak summer days, citizens are outside living active lives and not sitting in their homes looking for entertainment form their television sets.
Both the airline and railroad industries dislike the changing times, especially the lost hour in the spring, because flight and rail schedules have to be adjusted accordingly.
Studies by the American Journal of Cardiology said there is a spike in heart attacks during the first 24 hours of Daylight Savings Time due to the stress of changing our body clocks by one hour.
The one downside to year-long Daylight Savings Time is that during winter months school children would have to go to school in the dark. However, many education officials are trying to dictate a later start to school year round because students are not getting sufficient sleep these days and teachers are required to arise very early for the early start of the school day.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.