Hey, folks. Okay, so most people are still acclimating to Daylight Savings Time. It’s great to get that extra hour; it could be for sleep, study, etc. But have you ever thought about where DST comes from or why we use it? The knee-jerk association with its origin typically involves Benjamin Franklin. You’ve probably heard his phrase “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. While science has proven this true beyond the scope of the old proverb, it’s still misattributed to modern DST. Let’s state that a little differently: Benjamin Franklin did not invent Daylight Savings Time.
…Oh dear. Hope I didn’t just ruin someone’s childhood.
Franklin is awesome for several reasons, but the honor of creating DST as we know it rests with George Vernon Hudson. An entomologist from New Zealand, Hudson really needed as much after-work daylight as he could get. So much that in 1895, he wrote a proposal to the Wellington Philosophical Society that proposed a time shift. He did it again in 1898. You might laugh at this man’s determination; writing up a serious proposal just so he could spend more time doing his hobby? Yeah, sure. Just imagine if your television was solar-powered.
Not so funny, is it?
It’s also worth noting that modern DST was separately conceived by William Willett in 1905. He supposedly got the idea after going riding early one summer morning and noticing how many of his neighbors were distinctly not morning people. Can you imagine having him as a roommate? In his aptly-titled The Waste of Daylight, he suggests that clocks be moved 80 minutes forward or backward in April and September respectively. Despite years of Parliament lobbying, Willett was struck down by the flu before his idea was put to law. His efforts weren’t in vain; British Summer Time is still in use today.
Modern DST wasn’t actually implemented until World War I, during which the German and Austria-Hungary Empires used it to conserve resources. It was such a practical move that all the other countries involved eventually followed suit. Since then, there have been many alterations, repeals, and tweaks to the DST. It depends on the country using it, legislation, etc. If you want to see just how ridiculously complicated this can get, check out this awesome, informative video about it here.
Oh, by the way: The reason it’s called modern Daylight Savings Time? It’s older than you think.