| by Jason Epstein

Daylight Saving Time: What the heck is it?

That’s right, it’s 'daylight saviING time', not 'daylight saviINGS time' so get your terminology right!

It was Benjamin Franklin that came up with the old adage: "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," but it was not he who invented daylight saving time (DST). That credit belongs to British-born New Zealander, George Hudson, an entomologist and astronomer. Benfrank is the man and we love him, but Hudson wasn’t only a member of the Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition in 1907, but also collected and catalogued so many insects in his life that his collection is housed in a museum in New Zealand. Awesome.

But we’re talking about daylight saving time, not some turn-of-the-century science badass, so let’s go back a bit further. Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the rise and fall of the sun. When it rose, so did you. When it set, it was time to huddle inside under candlelight hoping the gods would allow the sun to rise again (because if you were from the past you were by all accounts pretty stupid and believed in that sort of smite-happy God stuff.)

Daylight saving time didn’t come around until George Hudson came up with the idea in 1895, and it wasn’t even fully adopted in America and Europe until the 1970s. But imagine if the great American pioneers had DST? They would’ve had to figure out how to REPROGRAM THEIR SUNDIAL (which is effing impossible, with or without the instruction manual). In many ways, we could probably credit the early pioneers with the bold tradition of leaving your car clock an hour off for half the year. It worked for sundials, and it works for cars. How often can we make that comparison?

So you probably think DST is all about the farmers, right? Here’s an interesting fact: contrary to popular belief, the agriculture industry has typically opposed daylight saving, rather than championing it. The lost hour of morning light caused them to rush their products to market. It was actually the retail, sporting, and tourism industry that have supported it due to good old consumerism. An extra hour of sunlight makes a stop at the store on the way home from work more attractive to commuters, no?

As you can imagine, a system that mercilessly tears an extra hour of sunlight from us in the winter and gracefully returns it in the spring has pros and cons:

Pros

  • One time we were on a plane crossing the Atlantic when it turned midnight, and then back home when it turned midnight AGAIN, proving time travel is possible
  • DST gives us an opportunity to show off our knowledge of New Zealand bug collectors, and we’ll take that opportunity any time we can get it!

Cons

  • DST can mess up record keeping and billing, equipment and devices with time and schedule functionality, travel, and of course, sleep patterns
  • Notice in the spring we get an hour taken away and almost everyone seems to be in a bad mood? It’s because we’ve all been jetlagged an hour. Dafuq, man!

Pros and cons aside, is DST really necessary? Well partner, that’s up for you to decide. But no matter your preference, us humans are wired for comfort and routine. So don’t expect DST to change anytime soon. In the meantime, enjoy that extra hour of sleep in the fall, and that extra hour of sunlight in the spring.

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