‘Spring forward’ touches Marshall Center worldwide

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‘Spring forward’ touches Marshall Center worldwide

By Christine June
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 8, 2016) – Whether we like it or not, most people around the world are about to "lose one hour of sleep" starting this Sunday, March 13.

Americans will be the first to be groggy as they will turn their clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. this Sunday, March 13.

Those of us in Europe and most of the world that implement Daylight Saving Time (also wrongly known as daylight savings time) will still have that "extra hour of sleep" until 2 a.m. Sunday, March 27, which is Easter Sunday.

This marks the beginning of DST, which will end 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 in the U.S. and 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 in Europe and other countries.

When Americans in Europe are calling their loved ones in the U.S. during those two weeks in spring, the time zone differences will be one hour less than usual.

When the time change goes into effect each spring, clocks are moved forward by one hour at 2 a.m. standard time, and the time becomes 3 a.m. When it ends in the fall, the clock hands are moved back at 2 a.m. and become 1 a.m. This is where the saying “spring forward, fall back” comes from.

The change to daylight saving time ostensibly allows less energy in lighting homes and businesses by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours.

Daylight saving was first proposed in 1895, and it was first implemented by Germany and Austria-Hungary starting April 30, 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, most consistently since the energy crises of the 1970s. 

European nations have been taking advantage of the time change for decades, and in 1996, the European Union standardized an EU-Wide European Summer Time, which runs from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October.

Other countries served by the Marshall Center do not observe daylight saving time. The 2011 declaration by Russia that it would not turn its clocks back and stay in daylight saving time all year long was subsequently followed by a similar declaration from Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. Iceland also observes year-round daylight saving time.

In some Muslim countries, daylight saving time is temporarily abandoned during Ramadan  (the month when no food should be eaten between sunrise and sunset), since “springing forward” an hour would delay the evening dinner. This concerns at least Morocco and Palestine. Although Iran keeps daylight saving time during Ramadan, most Muslim countries do not use daylight saving time, partially for this reason.

Daylight saving time was instituted in the U.S. during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II, the federal government again required states to observe the time change.

Between and after the wars, states and communities chose whether or not to observe daylight saving time until 1996 when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time is four weeks longer in the U.S. since 2007, due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. This act extended daylight saving time by four weeks from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, with the hope it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during the daylight hours.

During daylight saving time, the names of each of the time zones in the U.S change as well to daylight time. When on standard time, the time zones in the U.S. are Alaska Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time, Central Standard Time and Eastern Standard Time.

Hawaii, Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation), the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa are the only places in the U.S. that do not observe daylight saving time but instead stay on standard time all year long.

In Japan, daylight saving time was introduced after World War II by the U.S. occupation but was dispensed with in 1952, following opposition from farmers. Despite efforts by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to have daylight saving introduced to cut Japan's energy consumption, opposition from farmers and the Ministry of Education, which was concerned that lighter evenings would keep school children from their homework, has continued to win the day.

Other parts of the world observe daylight saving time as well.  In the southern hemisphere, where summer comes in December, daylight saving time is observed from October to March.

Equatorial and tropical countries don’t observe daylight saving time since the daylight hours are similar every season so there’s no advantage to moving clocks forward during the summer.

Three large regions in Australia do not participate in daylight saving time. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland stay on standard time all year. The remaining south-central and southeastern sections of the continent (where Sydney and Melbourne are found) make the switch. This results in both vertical and horizontal time zones “down under” during the summer months.

China, which spans five time zones, is always eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and does not observe daylight saving time.