Daylight savings time abolished. In 2019, the European Parliament passed a law abolishing daylight savings time (DST), permanently. It was left up to the individual countries to decide whether they wanted to choose standard time or summer time. COVID 19 delayed implementation until 2022.

     The origins of DST are interesting. In 1898, New Zealand entomologist George Hudson first proposed modern DST. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, his passion, and led him to value after-hours daylight. He presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift.

     Independently, a prominent English builder and outdoorsman, William Willett, conceived of DST in 1905. During a pre-breakfast horse-ride in London, he observed that many residents slept through a large part of a summer day. Willett also was an avid golfer, who disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, and he published the proposal two years later. Willett lobbied, unsuccessfully, for his proposal until his death in 1915.

     The German Empire, and Austria-Hungary, organized the first nationwide implementation of DST, starting on April 30, 1916. The U.S. also did it in 1916 as part of its World War I industrial effort.

     DST is generally not observed near the equator, where sunrise and sunset times do not vary enough to justify it. Some countries observe it only in some regions; for example, parts of Australia observe it, while other parts do not, and the United States observes it, except for Arizona and Hawaii, which do not. Navajo Tribal lands, within Arizona, conform to DST. In fact, only a minority of the world’s population uses DST. For example, Asia and Africa generally do not observe it at all.

     DST clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and human sleep patterns. Computer software generally adjusts clocks automatically.

     Interestingly enough, ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun far more flexibly than DST does. They often divided daylight into 12 hours regardless of how long daylight lasted. That meant that each daylight hour became progressively longer during spring and shorter during autumn.

     The Romans, for example, kept time with water clocks that had different scales for different months of the year. At Rome’s latitude, the third hour from sunrise (hora tertia) started at 09:02 solar time, and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes. Confusing to us, maybe, but no more so than DST.

     On a lighter note, Benjamin Franklin, who published the proverb “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”, also published a letter in the Journal de Paris, during his time as an American envoy to France (1776–1785), suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. This letter proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. I’m sure that made him popular in Paris, even if he thought it was funny.                    More on this topic next week. The seemingly boring history, and demise of DST, is much more interesting than I could possibly have imagined. Remember, daylight savings time abolished.

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