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Don’t Forget to Turn Back the Clock!

FILE - In this Thursday, July 25, 2019 photo, workers at the Electric Time Company in Medfield, Mass., test a 20 foot high clock, built for the a new train station in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Don’t Forget to Turn Back the Clock!
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Many Americans have a chance to sleep in a little longer this weekend.

In the early hours of Sunday, November 3, Daylight Saving Time comes to an end in most of the country. People are supposed to turn their clocks back an hour. So, they will have one more hour to rest.

But there are exceptions. The time change is not observed in the states of Arizona or Hawaii or United States territories such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Daylight saving time is the tradition of moving the clocks forward one hour in March and turning them back again in November. Americans use the expression “spring forward, fall back” to remember which way to set their clocks.

American Benjamin Franklin first proposed the time change in 1784. He liked the idea of moving clocks forward to take advantage of more sunlight during the summer months.

Franklin wrote, “Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards…”

This led some people to believe that the proposal to move the time forward was just an attempt to make late sleepers get up early.

In 1915, Germany and Britain agreed to the time change during World War I to save energy. When the United States entered the war, Congress passed a law in 1918 to adopt Daylight Saving Time. The practice ended in 1920 because American farmers objected, but returned in 1942 after the U.S. entered World War II.

After the fighting stopped, American states and towns were given a choice whether to keep daylight saving time. For a time, this led to a free-for-all system, with people never really sure about the timing of bus and train service. Congress passed a law to keep the time uniform across the country; however, several states, including Hawaii and Arizona, kept control of the local time.

The idea behind daylight saving time was to save energy. With more sunlight later in the day, people would use less electric lighting. But scientists now say people use even more energy to operate air-conditioners for the long, hot days of summer.

The Time and Date website says fewer than 40 percent of countries around the world use daylight saving time, or DST. In Europe, where the time change was first adopted, the European Parliament voted in March to end it by 2021. European Union member countries, however, can choose to stay on DST, known as “summer time,” or return to normal time, or “winter time.”

In the United States, some states are trying to decide whether to stay on DST year-round or just end the time change altogether.

Florida became the first state to approve a proposal for observing DST year-round and California soon may follow. Other states, like Texas, are looking to stay in standard time permanently. All measures will require U.S. Congressional approval.

One of the Americans who wants to end the time change is President Donald Trump. Trump wrote on Twitter earlier this year, “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

advantage - n. benefit or gain

sufficient - adj. enough, having or providing as much as is needed

cannon - n. a large gun that shoots heavy stone balls

sluggard - n. a lazy person

uniform - adj. staying the same at all times in all places