Every year our clocks shift forward one hour in March and back one hour in November for Daylight Saving Time. It is indeed called Daylight Saving Time, and not Daylight Savings Time as I have said for as long as I can remember. Regardless, if you are like me, you relish the extra hour of sleep gained in the fall and grudgingly forfeit an hour of sleep in the spring.

This concept of changing time intrigues me. The magic time shift that comes with Daylight Saving Time occurs when most of us are asleep. In the spring on the second Sunday in March, clocks change at 1:59 am to 3:00 am, and from 1:59 am to 1:00 am in the fall on the first Sunday in November. Why do we do this every year?

The purpose of the spring time shift has always been to “save daylight” by “moving” an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening hours where it can be enjoyed and utilized more fully. This concept was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in a clever essay written in 1784 while in Paris. He humorously suggested that Parisians could save substantial sums of money by shifting time. He wrote that Parisians (and later Londoners) slept by sunlight and lived by candlelight. By moving the clock forward in the spring, they could enjoy daylight later into the evening without the expense of using energy in the form of candles and oil lamps.

Since Ben Franklin’s time, the concept of Daylight Saving Time in the United States as a means to save energy has had its ups and downs. Daylight Saving Time has been widely promoted, refuted, adopted, studied, praised, dismissed, and reinstated numerous times over. From the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, cities and towns often adopted their own “local” time which made developing railcar schedules nearly impossible. Standardizing time across the US and Canada became necessary as railway (and later communication) systems developed. Their success depended upon it.

In an attempt to standardize time and conserve coal during World War I, a 1918 federal law created both time zones and summer Daylight Saving Time. This change was not well-received. Daylight Saving Time was repealed in 1919 but re-enacted to conserve energy during World War II. After 1945 and up until 1966, observance of Daylight Saving Time across the US was inconsistent and confusing. The Uniform Time Act once again reinstated Daylight Saving Time with some revisions added over the years.

As it turns out, we are not the only country to observe a Daylight Saving Time. In fact, over 70 countries have implemented some form of Daylight Saving Time with varying beginning and ending dates.

While the energy savings from Daylight Saving Time today is estimated to be far less to nonexistent compared to a century ago, the spring time shift provides farmers and gardeners with an extra hour of daylight to plant, care for, and harvest crops. The one caveat is that farmers and parents well know that livestock and children don’t mark the beginning or ending of a day by the clock. Hopefully though, most everyone was able to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep this past weekend.

For additional information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at Scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.