Daylight Saving Time is ending in Europe, the Middle East, and Mexico this weekend. In the United States, Daylight Saving Time ends the first Sunday of November with the clock going backward, but in the southern hemisphere, Daylight Saving Time just began in Brazil, Chile, Australia, New Zealand earlier this month “when their clocks went forward,” reported BBC on Oct.25, 2013.
So who came up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time that is sending the clocks around the world forward and backward?
The concept of Daylight Saving Time can actually be traced back to ancient civilizations which adjusted their daily schedules according to the sun. According to a timeanddate.com report, “ancient civilizations were known to practice a similar process of the concept of DST where they would adjust their daily schedules in accordance to the sun, such as the Roman water clocks that used different scales for different months of the year.”
Fast forwarding a few hundred years to 1784, Benjamin Franklin discussed the idea of Daylight Saving Time and saving energy in his essay, “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” in which he proposed to save candles by getting up earlier to use the morning sunlight.
In 1895, an entomologist from New Zealand named George Vernon Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society about Daylight Saving Time in which he proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March, but while there was some interest in his ideas, they never actually realized.
In 1907, only 12 years later, William Willett, who worked in his father's building business in the United Kingdom, published a pamphlet titled “The Waste of Daylight,” after noticing during an early morning horseback ride that people still had their blinds drawn while the sun was already up. William Willett proposed that for Daylight Saving Time, the clocks should go forward 80 minutes in April and be set back again in September.
Unlike Benjamin Franklin or George Vernon Hudson, William Willett vigorously campaigned for his idea of Daylight Saving Time, and he gained support by a Member of Parliament. William Willett is generally accredited with having come up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time.
However, it was not until “necessity became the father of invention” that Daylight Saving Time became a reality.
It was Germany who first observed Daylight Saving Time during World War I in an effort to conserve fuel. The first time Daylight Saving Time officially came into existence was on May 1, 1916. Soon other European countries followed, and by 1918, the United States instituted Daylight Saving Time with the Standard Time Act of 1918.
From ancient times to Benjamin Franklin, George Vernon Hudson, William Willett, to World War I, the main idea of Daylight Saving Time was to not really “save time” but to save energy.
In modern times, with an apparent abundance of resources like candles, coal, or even oil, -- and with millions of global travelers spending other kinds of resources -- it has become questionable whether Daylight Saving Time is indeed saving anything or whether it has become more of a nuisance.