I awoke on the Sunday morning when our clocks in the US leaped forward by one hour, wondering how I had managed to sleep until 9 am! After a few minutes of coming to, it finally dawned on me that my body, accustomed to waking up anywhere between 7 and 8 am, hadn’t gotten the memo about the time change.
Later that day as I waited for my Brazilian friend to join me for brunch at a churrasqueria in Webster, Texas, I wondered whether the time change had gotten to her and might explain her tardiness. She later confessed that none of her clocks in her house had automatically adjusted to one hour forward, and that this may have been a contributing factor to her being so late.
I grew up in Switzerland and Brazil in the 1970s, when neither of these countries were using daylight savings time, so I don’t remember having to adjust our clocks and watches twice a year. This was despite the fact that Brazil first introduced daylight savings time (DST) in October 1931. DST was only enforced sporadically from 1931 onwards, until becoming a regular practice from 1985. The idea was to save electricity by giving more daylight in the evenings, so people could go outside and enjoy themselves afterwork. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro unceremoniously did away with DST in 2019, saying most Brazilians could not stand it. A poll showed that 55% of Brazilians did not approve of DST. Bolsonaro argued additionally that DST had hardly made a dent in economizing electricity use by Brazilians in the evenings.
The first reported use of DST was by Germany in May 1916 in an effort to save gasoline during World War 1. The United States started using DST in 1918, but its adoption and implementation was for the most part left up to individual states. But even in some states, cities would adopt DST and rural areas would not. This all led to a dizzying patchwork of different time zones, that undoubtedly made many people crazy!
Switzerland only adopted DST in 1981 after it was imposed by the Federal Council. The Swiss cabinet decided against using DST in 1917, partly because most of Switzerland’s electricity came from hydropower. Swiss farmers had been against it for decades, citing the difficulty in changing the milking schedules of their cows twice a year!
Closer to home, the US Senate last week unanimously approved a bill that included wording that would make DST permanent. Members of the House of Representatives, and some senators, were shocked and surprised that the resolution was passed without a single hearing or consultation of constituents.
Reports The Hill:
“Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told The Hill on Friday that, while she has supported doing away with the semiannual time change in the past, she’s gotten mixed reactions from her constituents over the idea.
‘I've been hearing a lot about this from my constituents recently because we're in Seattle and it is so dark,’ she said, ‘and so if we make daylight saving permanent, it's gonna be dark until like nine o'clock in the morning.’”
Other representatives have vowed to fight the proposal, and several have said that the war in Ukraine is a priority for everyone at the moment, so it seems that a permanent DST isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
I personally don’t care that much, though if I lived in Seattle or Maine, I too would be pissed if the sun only rose at 9 in the morning in winter.