“Fall Back… Spring Forward”, a mantra loved or scorned depending on how it affects your day. Spring forward typically means that we have to get up and get our day started an hour earlier, which can be a bane to many. This peculiar form of timekeeping has been controversial since its inception but the history of why we still do this is quite interesting.
The Early Bird and The Worm
The earliest record for changing time with the seasons seems to be a joke essay written by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. The essay appeared in a letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris as “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” and concluded that Parisians could save more money on candles by getting out of bed earlier in the morning, and utilizing more natural light for longer. His calculations showed a savings of millions of dollars to the city and thus the citizens of Paris.
“Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient?, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.”
- Benjamin Franklin, a man of the people.
Franklin’s suggestion was more of a joke than a serious proposal, and so nothing was done at the time. Though this joke proposal had made its way into the world and the seeds for the changing of time were sown.
Roll the clock forward by a century.
The modern daylight savings we know today was first enacted in Germany by Kaiser Wilhelm during the first world war as a fuel-saving measure. As the rest of Europe followed, eventually in 1918 President Woodrow Wilson made it a reality for every American, even though it was widely unpopular (especially with American farmers). Though President Wilson wanted to keep DST after World War I, the average American rejected it and it was axed a few months later after the war had ended.
Spring forward to President Roosevelt and the second World War. With Roosevelt calling it “War Time” it seemed that Daylight Savings Time had found its fertile roots on February 9, 1942, and was here to stay. Though it gets a bit messy, ultimately each state would start accepting the new time standard and with it the groans of the American working class.
Time for a Change?
Daylight Savings Time’s necessity in the early 20th century quickly faded as we entered into the 21st century. It seems to be kept around simply because we’ve grown accustomed to it.
There is now a popular movement to ending it for good and science is backing up why that might benefit us more. Our natural circadian rhythm moves in sync with the flow of the earth and thus the universe. Correcting our clocks brings us out of sync with the flow of our day, and is proven to actually bring about more harm than good. The chaos of the small time change actually sees a higher jump in heart attacks and workplace accidents due to the lack of sleep during Spring Forward.
Ultimately it's up to each of us to decide whether DST is beneficial or not. Some are grateful for the “extra” hour of sleep in the fall, but that sentiment quickly gets revoked in the spring. Maybe it just makes more sense with our deeper understanding of the natural flow in life to drop the abrupt changing of our clocks.
Either way, DST is still the standard, so this is a reminder to roll your clock forward an hour on March 14, 2021.
Or just continue to let our advanced technology do it for us.
Cheers, and thank you for reading!