Daylight Saving Time: A Short History

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Question: What is so special about this Sunday, November 7th? If you said that it is the premier of Great Migrations on the National Geographic Channel, you are right.

But you are also right if you said that it marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, 2010!

While we will unfortunately lose the hour of daylight that we have been able to enjoy throughout the summer and fall months, we will also gain that extra hour of sleep we lost back in March! I’d say that’s a win-win situation. Wouldn’t you?

Have you ever wondered when Daylight Saving Time (DST) came into being, and why? I started wondering about DST recently when a couple of my coworkers and I got into a discussion about when and why DST was invented. I did some research and learned some interesting facts along the way.


According to Matt Rosenberg at About.com: Geography, DST was first observed in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight during the summer months. It was observed again during World War II. Between the two world wars and after the second one, U.S. states and communities chose whether or not to observe DST. It was not until 1966 that the U.S. government passed a law standardizing the length of DST. Today, Arizona and Hawaii are the only two U.S. states that do not implement DST. Infoplease.com says the “sweltering summer sun” in Arizona and Hawaii explains why they refrain from adding an extra hour of sunlight during the summer months.Sunshine.jpg

While the origin of DST in the US is linked to economizing energy during the First World War, modern DST has even older origins, dating back to Benjamin Franklin! In the late 1700s, Franklin proposed a similar idea – that of taking advantage of daylight in order to conserve resources. Except, in Franklin’s case, he was concerned with economizing candles! Although Franklin was succeeded by two additional men who fought for the daylight saving cause in the late 1800s and early 1900s, DST did not become an official government-enforced practice until WWI.

Today, a form of daylight saving time is implemented in over 70 countries, but the beginning and ending dates of each DST vary from place to place. Did you know that Kyrgyzstan and Iceland are the only two countries in the world that observe year-round Daylight Saving Time? If you’re ever confused about the time or date of a particular place, check out the world clock for accurate dates and times of cities all over the world.

Whatever you decide to do with your extra hour on Sunday – enjoy it!

For more information on Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. and around the world, check out About.com, infoplease.com, or timeanddate.com

Countdown to Geography Awareness Week: 10 days! Here is one of many great educational resources available on the Geography Awareness Week website:

        – Water: Our Thirsty World — download your FREE copy of the special edition of National Geographic magazine during the month of November, 2010.

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