Daylight Saving Time is that wonderful time of the year when the clocks all change and steal an hour of our sleep. This past weekend, though, the clocks repaid us by adding an hour. Everyone is familiar with this system, but how did it get its start and why is it still being practiced today?
Contrary to popular belief, Benjamin Franklin did not create the system. Franklin’s proposal was actually a satire piece mocking Parisians for their leisurely ways – he anonymously wrote a letter to a newspaper saying that window shutters should be taxed and cannons should be fired when it’s time for everyone to wake up. Modern Daylight Saving Time was proposed by a New Zealander named George Hudson in an attempt to increase the number of daylight hours people had for pleasure activities after finishing their day at work. Oddly enough, an Englishman named William Willett thought up the same idea ten years later in 1905 completely independently of Hudson.
The first few countries to enact Daylight Saving Time were Germany and its allies in 1916 to conserve coal usage during World War I. Britain and the rest of Europe followed shortly after and the United States adopted the system in 1918. Present-day, Daylight Saving Time is practiced around the globe and in every state in the U.S. except Arizona, who stopped changing their clocks in 1969.