International Observance: It’s Daylight Savings Time

SUNDAY, MARCH 13: Don’t forget to “spring ahead” as Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins! At 2 a.m. in the U.S. and in various other parts of the world, people turn their clocks ahead by one hour and welcome summer hours. (Time and Date lists DST times by country.)

Daylight Savings Time was conceptualized by Benjamin Franklin, who proposed that shifting daylight hours along with the seasons would maximize productivity. (Wikipedia has details.) Most of the U.S., Canada and Europe has been using DST since WWI—although some states or regions within these areas have chosen to opt out.

The date of DST also has moved over time: A 1986 law declared DST on the first Sunday of April, while in 2005, President Bush declared DST would start on the second Sunday of March in 2007 and beyond.

Records show that DST has boosted the economy tremendously, particularly in leisure sports, such as golf. Just be careful when rising tomorrow—studies also show that because we lose an hour’s sleep and our body clocks are thrown off, our risk of a heart attack Monday or Tuesday rises by 10 percent. (A short article is on the site of the Baltimore Sun.) Scientists recommend rising 30 minutes early today, and having a good breakfast all next week.

Daylight Savings Time sparked a religion-and-state debate last year in Israel, when the Israeli government ended DST early to support those observing the Yom Kippur fast. (The Huffington Post published an article.) Israel formerly had changed back to standard time on the Sunday before Yom Kippur, but when Yom Kippur fell in September in 2010—and DST ended nearly eight weeks earlier than in the rest of the world—people loudly objected at the political manipulation. The special revision in DST was initiated by Orthodox parties in hopes that more Jews would observe the day-long fast if it was made an hour easier.

(Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)

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