Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

A Greenwich Mean Time notice informs the British public of a change in time as clocks go back an hour in the first year of the daylight saving scheme on October 1, 1916.
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Twice a year, people around the country get either bummed about losing an hour of sleep or excited about gaining extra lie in. This year, those in the United States will set their clocks ahead one hour on Sunday at 2 a.m., and folks are already engaging in the yearly tradition of sharing their opinion about the practice. Regardless of which side you are on, one thing is for certain: everyone has strong feelings about it. So, how did we get here?

The origin of the practice dates back to the early 20th century, and was intended to save energy and make better use of daylight, according to the website Time and Date. As daylight saving time starts, clocks are set ahead of standard time during part of the year, meaning that during this time the sun rises and sets later than the day before, as far as the clock is concerned, the report further adds.

Today, about 40 percent of countries worldwide use daylight saving time to make better use of daylight and to conserve energy. According to the report, the first two countries to stipulate the practice at a national level were Germany and Austria in 1916, Time and Date explains.

However, a few Canadians beat the German Empire by nearly a decade, as the first use of the practice can be traced back to 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada. On July 1 of that year, the residents of Port Arthur, Ontario, in what is today Thunder Bay, turned their clocks forward by one hour to start the world’s first daylight saving time period, the report contends. Other locations in Canada soon followed suit.

The German Empire popularized daylight saving time following the rationale that artificial lighting needed to be kept to a minimum to save fuel for the war effort, considering World War I was at full speed in 1916.

Though the idea of daylight saving time as we know it has its origins in the late 19th century and early 20th century, many believe ancient civilizations also engaged in similar practices thousands of years ago, according to the report. The Romans themselves are said to have set their water clocks to different scales for different months of the year to adjust the daily schedules to the solar time, Time and Date details.

Despite its widespread use throughout history, many people have an issue with daylight saving time. That’s because some contend the time change disrupts the body’s natural functions, throwing people off for days, an effect that can be even harsher on babies, as Money explains.

Several states, including Colorado and California, have attempted to pass legislation to scrap the practice, to no avail. As of today, daylight saving time is here to stay, but only time will tell what the future holds.