News Column

When Do I Set My Clock Back? And Why?

November 1, 2013

Karen Kissiah, The Cheraw Chronicle

alarm clock
Don't forget to set all your clocks back this weekend as Daylight Saving Time ends. (Sun Ladder, Creative Commons)

Love it or hate it, this is the weekend to "fall back" from Daylight Savings Time into Standard Time. Technically, 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, is the bewitching hour. That's when all clocks, that aren't programmed to change automatically, should be set back one hour.

The adjustment to the clock's changing perspective on the natural rise and fall of the sun has been a subject of debate for more than a century. Some argue it's too dark for children to be waiting on buses in the early mornings. Others, complain that it's dark before they can get home from work.

Standard Time was first introduced in November of 1883 in the United States, and simultaneously in Canada, in order to coordinate cross country travel by railroad. In more ancient times, of course, time was measured locally by sundials. And when mechanical clocks were introduced there were certain clocks in each town, possibly a church tower, or a jewelry store window clock, that set the standard for the town's local time.

Standard Time was introduced to American citizens in 1883, but it was not established as law until the Standard Time Act of 1918 was passed by Congress. That year also introduced Daylight Savings Time in America and in Europe for the purpose of conserving fuel; a source for producing electricity during World War I.

In 1919, after the war was over, the time change was so unpopular with the people that Congress repealed the law.

Daylight Savings Time had been observed for just seven months in 1918. But, during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented what he called "War Time," which set up uninterrupted Daylight Savings Time from Feb. 9, 1942, until Sept. 30, 1945.

There were no federal laws in place for nearly 20 years. It was not until 1966 that the Department of Transportation was placed in charge of establishing time zones and regulating time changes. And it was in January of 1974 that President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act, once again establishing the time change for a portion of the year.

The current laws regarding Daylight Savings Time were put into place with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Since their implementation in 2007, the United States observes Daylight Savings Time each year from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March until 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

The switch to November makes trick or treating safer for children all across the country. Up until 2006, Daylight Savings Time ended before Halloween.

There is still not a standard for the world, as most European countries begin Daylight Savings time a few weeks later than the United States, and end a week earlier.

Most community fire departments now take advantage of the time change, twice a year, to remind people to check their smoke alarms.

-- Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at


(c)2013 The Cheraw Chronicle, S.C.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

Original headline: Falling back since 1918

Source: (c)2013 The Cheraw Chronicle, S.C.

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