Let’s start things earlier, in Europe.

Photo Credit: Timebooth

Every year we are changing our clocks, either “springing forward” or “falling back” into time.  We synchronize our clocks either to save some daylight (Daylight Saving) or to return back to our standard time.

For this year, in the United States, Daylight Saving began on Sunday, March 13, 2011 and will end shortly on November 6, 2011. This change occurs each year in order to save one hour of daylight in the afternoon and have one less hour in the morning. But why does this happen, and since when?

George Vernon Hudson, a well known astronomer and entomologist, thought of this concept in 1895.  Since World War I, it has been used by most European countries and the United States. Germany and Austria started this in “an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power.” Other countries started adapting this immediately.

The United States actually passed a law in 1918, known as “An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States.” If one wants to read more about the law, click here.

Adding an extra hour of daylight adds a lot time for various activities.  This is beneficial for individuals who partake in outdoor activities, as in George Hudson’s case. Not everyone is in favor of this change because it does cause problems for individuals where daylight is a part of their occupation, like farmers, for example.  Other problems and challenges also arise when it disrupts our sleep schedule, cause changes in flights and meetings, and it can also effect our record keeping.  However, drawbacks and benefits vary from person to person.

Photo Credit: Tuftsjournal

As I was sitting in my living room talking to my dad about how the time change is approaching, he informed me that the time has already changed in Europe.

Europe has an EU-Rule, which has to be followed by all countries in the Union, that tells individuals when the time change occurs.  Other countries in Europe, that are not part of the Union, have simply adapted to this rule for their own benefit. The United States, however, has not been as consistent as Europe in the past.  In the “early 1960s, observance of Daylight Saving Time was quite inconsistent, with a hodgepodge of time observances, and no agreement about when to change clocks.” Now, the entire country changes the time consistently and accordingly.

In Europe, the time change begins at 1:00 am on the last Sunday of March and ends at 1:00 am on the last Sunday of October.  In the United States, the time change begins at 2:00 am on the Second Sunday in March and ends at 2:00 am on the First Sunday of November.

Time changes vary according to the continent, country, and state.  Europe countries change their time before the United States, but Hawaii and Arizona, for instance, never change to daylight savings.  Other territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also keep their time as is.

How do you feel about the time change? Is it beneficial for you, or does it affect you in a negative way?