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Spring ahead! tonight's the night - Daylight Saving Time

By Jan Recchio (grampapaMarch 12, 2011

What do you know about Daylight Saving Time? All I knew is that I had trouble remembering when to reset my clock. So I set out to do a little research.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 7, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.) 

Actually, the term "spring ahead" has always stuck in my mind, so I knew I had to set my clock forward an hour in the spring.  By default, that meant to set it an hour back in the autumn ("fall back").  When I was a child, my dad told me Daylight Saving was started to give the farmers an extra hour of daylight in the summer to get their work done.  That still doesn't make any sense to me.  The days do not really get any just pushes the hours of daylight from one clock hour to another.

ImageFirst observed in World War I and again in World War II, Daylight Saving Time was not standardized in the United States until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act provided that any state that participated must use the federal dates.  Prior to that, the states could begin and end on any dates they picked.  Traditionally running from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, in 2007 a four-week extension was added in the interest of energy conservation as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This year, Daylight Saving Time runs from 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, through 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 1.  Any state may choose not to participate, or may choose to participate in only one time zone if the state is split across two zones.  Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa currently choose to be exempt.

The extra hour of daylight on summer evenings is popular in many countries.  Canada, with the exception of most of Saskatchewan, observes DST.  Many of the provinces and territories also agreed to the four-week extension.  The Mexican state of Sonora remains on standard time because of a shared border with Arizona  Most of the rest of Mexico is on DST.

Countries in the European Union observe what they call a 'summer-time period' from the end of March to the end of October.  Russia's standard time is kept one hour fast in all 11 of its time zones.  Additionally, it observes DST from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.  Many countries in the Southern Hemisphere maintain DST, but from October to March because that is their spring-summer.  China, Japan and most countries near the equator do not observe any form of DST.  Interestingly, even though Antarctica has little to gain by adopting DST, with 24 hours of daylight on many summer days, they do so to coordinate with their suppliers in Chile and other countries on DST. 

Whose idea was it?  Benjamin Franklin had a notion and published it in an essay in 1784, but did not seriously propose adopting the idea.  A British gentleman by the name of William Willett wrote a pamplet in 1907 titled "Waste of Daylight."  His original proposal was to advance time by 20 minutes on four consecutive Sundays in April and reverse the process in September.    As a sidenote to my dad's comment on helping the farmers, MSN Encarta states, "In the United States during peacetime, daylight saving was a subject of controversy. Farmers, who usually work schedules determined by sun time and are therefore inconvenienced when they must conduct business on a different time basis, registered strong opposition." [2]

What does this mean to the home gardener?  For those of you lucky enough to be retired (like me), maybe not much.  The gardener who works during the day gets an extra hour of daylight to spend in the garden in the evening.  Hopefully, some of those hours will be spent relaxing and enjoying, not just weeding and working.

Daylight Saving...'s' or no 's'?  The official term is 'Daylight Saving Time', not 'Savings.'  According to an article on, "Saving is used as a verbal adjective - a participle.  It modifies time and tells us more about its nature..." [3].  It goes on to state that it would correctly be "daylight-saving," with a hyphen.  However, 'Daylight Savings Time' is in common usage and, as such, is found in many dictionaries.  Notice the 's' on the opening thumbnail.  On a personal note, when I began the article, I had an 's' at the end and had to go back and edit them all out.  I am sure I will continue to use the common term and my advice to you is use whatever you are comfortable with. 

                Whatever you call it, Don't Forget!!
If you are in the U.S. or Northern Hemisphere* where Daylight Saving Time with the four-week extension is observed, tonight (actually Sunday morning.)
    Turn Your Clocks Ahead 1 Hour At 2 a.m.
*Southern Hemisphere participants should turn their clocks back 

[1] Most of the factual information in the article was common to all of the reading I did, including the two sources cited below.  Also used for confirmation was Daylight saving time. (2009, January 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:03, January 27, 2009

[2] Daylight Saving, Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008, © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[3] Douma, Michael, curator.  Daylight Saving Time.  WebExhibits.  2009. Instititute for Dynamic Educational Advancement. Washington, D.C.


  About Jan Recchio  
Jan RecchioI'm a 'dabble' gardener. Been gardening since I was a child. I will plant anything that will grow for me and some things that won't, indoors or out. Outdoors I have theme gardens: roses, butterfly/hummingbird, heathers/dwarf conifers, a rock garden (in progress) and a new English-style cottage garden with an herb garden at it's 'heart'. Indoors I try to concentrate on orchids, African violets, anything that will flower or has lots of color and unusual houseplants. I try to stay organic and keep chemicals to a bare minimum. My non-gardening interests include quilting, counted cross-stitch and watercolor painting. I am a proud grandma, recently celebrated my 40th anniversary and before my retirement I was a clinical systems analyst (computer geek) for 24 years.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Thanks for the reminder! Bookerc1 15 43 Mar 10, 2009 10:10 AM
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