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Daylight savings ends: Time to 'fall back'

Daylight Savings Time ends in the wee hours of Sunday morning, so set your clocks back an hour. But where did this tradition come from?

By Staff writer / November 6, 2010

Maintenance supervisor Brian Streit changes the time on the 98-year-old clock atop the Mitchell County Courthouse in Beloit, Kan. Streit was setting time back an hour in advance of the end of daylight savings time which occurs at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Charlie Riedel/AP

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If you've ever wished you could have one hour back, tonight's your night.

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At 2 a.m. local time Nov. 7 – the wee hours of Sunday morning – Daylight Saving Time ends for much of the United States. That means turning clocks back one hour for an extra bit of shut-eye or an extra chapter or two in that novel before hitting the pillow.

The "Spring forward, Fall back" ritual was codified in the Uniform Time Act of 1966. States can opt out, of course. Hawaii and Arizona have said no thanks to the time changes that kick in on the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.

But the rest of the country, including the once temporally bifurcated Indiana, are now on board.

If the twice-a-year clock tweaking seems a bit of a hassle, don't blame Ben Franklin, the oft-cited originator of the policy. He did offer up a version, but as satire – a dig at folks in Paris who apparently didn't hew to the "early to bed, early to rise" mantra he crafted.

Blame the Kiwis, instead. Back in 1895, one George Vernon Hudson, post-office clerk by day, entomologist during his off hours, offered up the notion of a two-hour time shift to the Wellington Philosophical Society as a means "to bring working-hours of the day within the period of daylight." Many were the tut-tuts, according to a brief record of his presentation.

Three years later, he offered up a refined version of the idea, arguing that "in this way the early-morning daylight would be utilised, and a long period of daylight leisure would be made available in the evening for cricket, gardening, cycling, or any other outdoor pursuit desired."

Perhaps not wanting to sound too self-serving, he declined to list his his favorite off-duty activity -- bug hunting. That presumably fell under the catch-all "any other outdoor pursuit."

It would be another 19 years before a nation would formally adopt the idea – Germany during World War 1 – as a way to cut down on energy demand, an aspect of Daylight Saving Time that is still a subject of dispute.

So before you trundle off to sleep tonight, make the rounds and tweak the clocks. While you're at it, public safety officials nationwide add that it's a good time to put new batteries in smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.

Savor the extra hour, if you get one. Come next March, it's outta here again when Daylight Saving Time returns.

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