Monday, March 14, 2011

On Daylight Savings Time (And other weird things!)

Here in the lovely Northeast, and my beautiful New England Home, we had to turn our clocks ahead one hour this Sunday at 2 AM. (Okay, most everybody turns them before they go to bed, but that's neither here nor there.) I felt robbed, just as I do every year, of one hour of sleep. Hey, one hour is one hour! I had to get to church earlier, and over half my Sunday school class didn't show up. Probably because they were in bed still sleeping. Back in November when we turned them back it seemed like such a good idea. More sleep. We pay for it now. So I got to thinking, prompted by a question from my eight year old, why do we practise daylight savings? I seemed to remember that it had to do something with Ben Franklin. So I did a little research to refresh my memory. Interesting stuff folks!

Ben Franklin did propose his idea of daylight savings back in 1784 when he was ambassador to France. He wrote a kind of tongue in cheek article about how the French would get more done if they rose with the sun and used more daylight, and less candles. Not much came of it at the time, but it was the basis of a proposed daylight savings time practice by George Vernon Hudson in 1895. (I guess he was a clerk in a New Zealand post office and an armature entomologist.)It wasn't till much later in 1907 that the British begin to take the idea more seriously. A Brit by the name of William Willett  proposed that by shifting the clock just 20 mint in April could produce more daylight hours and get more done with less energy. The very sentiment Franklin tried to convey over a hundred years earlier.

But the US didn't get on board to around 1918, and than it took well over 90 years to straighten the things out. For a time the country practiced it, but after WW1 the law was repelled. During WW2 Roosevelt put it in effect, calling it "war time" to save money. But at the end of WW2 it was up to local municipalities to decide if they wanted to follow the practise. Imagine how crazy that was for the travel and broadcasting industries! No one was on the same time schedule. In 1966, Congress passed The Uniform Time Act, Daylight Savings time would begin on the last Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October. In 1973 time zones were established and states decided weather they wanted to practise daylight savings time or not, within that time zone.

Over the years the dates and hours have been changed. Here we push it back to November. More daylight hours for the trick or treats I guess. As I pointed out before, it coincides nice with the winter solstice.

There is more to it than that. I guess that's just a quick little lesson. It doesn't really bother me much, besides being robbed some sleep. By the next day I am over it, and I like the daylight spreading longer in to the afternoon. It signals spring to me. It just seems to be one of those little quirks that I had not really paid much attention to before. I just took it as how we did things.

Weird things like leap year, groundhog day, and jumping over cracks. I am finding they can all be traced back to some "spooky" story or tradition. And trust me, in Massachusetts we have no short supply of those. we are the land of the Salem Witch trials, The House of The Seven Gables, and Bathsheba Spooner. (I need to write a post on her!)

So I am going to go catch that hour of sleep I lost, and work on the review for 12.21.12 for Thursday. Now that i have an answer my eight year old finds acceptable.

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