Spring forward, fall back. That’s the way it’s always been. Or has it? This weekend the clocks go back. At 2.00 am on Sunday 25th October we start our descent into the darkness. For most of us, it seems like it’s always been this way. Daylight Saving Time starts at the end of March and ends on the last weekend in October.
In fact, it hasn’t always been this way. Nowadays, all the countries of the EU change their clocks on the same day. This standardized schedule across the EU has only been in place since 1996, however. Before that, each country had its own schedule.
The strange truth is that clocks weren’t standardised even within small countries until relatively recently. Up until the 20th century, train station clocks in the West of Ireland were set to a different time to those in Dublin, to match the actual time according to the sun.
Daylight Saving Time started during WWI, when Germany implemented it to save coal for the war effort. Within a few weeks, nearly every country involved in the war was following the trend. The US jumped on the DST bandwagon in 1918.
After the war, Germany stopped using DST, as did Austria but Ireland and the UK were loving the DST buzz. In some countries, only some of their cities stick with it – Paris in France, for example. The rest of France, the rural areas, dropped DST by 1920. Farmers liked to work with the Earth and the seasons as they are.
When war erupted for the second time in Europe, Germany imposed DST once more and it speard out from there. It was adopted by a range of countries. Again, to conserve fuel. Once more, after the war, most countries dropped the measure.
It was another fuel shortage that made DST popular again. The 1970s oil crisis drove fuel prices through the roof. Conservation of fuel became the order of the day. By the early 1980s most of Europe was changing his clocks forward and back twice a year.
And now, things may be about to change again. After an EU wide survey shiwed that the majority of people wanted to drop DST altogether, the European parliament voted, in 2019, to scrap DST. Studies show that DST has a detrimental effect on the physical and menatl health of human beings. Each memeber state will decide whether to remain on Summer Time or change their clocks and stay on Winter Time instead.
Daylight Saving Time is not a worldwide thing either. Only 70 of the world’s countries change their clocks forward and back. All those countries close to the equautor never needed to do it but other countries, like China, India and most of Asia don’t change. Neither do most South American countries and African countries never even gave it a go.