For some, the twice-yearly ritual that is Daylight Saving Time is just one less hour of sleep in March and an extra 60 minutes to snooze in November when we return to standard time.
For others, the act of adding an hour of daylight by switching our clocks is a more passionate subject. A political one, even.
“Hate is a strong word, but it does not cover my disdain for the practice,” Pete Botto Jr., of Tampa, said in a recent emailed response to the Tampa Bay Times. Not only does it throw off your internal clock, he wrote, but switching back means a depressing and unnatural early darkness that “is a sort of jail cell.”
But hate also wasn’t too strong for J. Michael Munger of St. Petersburg, who wrote in his email headlined “Hate, Hate, Hate Standard Time” that he is “100% pro DST.”
“I don’t want to insult my fellow Floridians, but the desire of many of them to have their days end earlier boggles my mind,” he wrote.
Then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio, who has for years pushed for permanent Daylight Saving Time — making a full year of it instead of only eight months.
In a piece for Fox News, Rubio urged embracing this as a way to realign daylight time to our most productive hours and improve public health and the economy. “The process of having to reset our clocks is an irritatingly outdated practice that we should ditch,” he wrote.
In fact, the Florida Legislature voted in a permanent Daylight Saving Time bill three years ago, as have other states. But for it to stand, the change has to be made at the federal level, and so far, that hasn’t happened.
Daylight Saving Time — not, as it’s often called, Savings — means we set our clocks ahead to “spring forward” an hour on the second Sunday in March. The first Sunday in November, we set them to “fall back” to standard time. Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. (Note: Though these days, a lot of smart devices do the resetting themselves, remember this weekend to turn back clocks that don’t.)
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The goal is to provide an extra hour of daylight during the warmer time of year, to add 60 minutes of sunlight to the end of the workday. Of course, the amount of daylight doesn’t actually change — Daylight Saving Time just shifts the day.
The idea has been around awhile. Ben Franklin was pondering such thoughts, perhaps satirically, in an essay in 1784. It was seriously proposed by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson in 1895 to give him more daylight hours to hunt bugs.
Germany used it in an effort to conserve fuel and energy in World War I, and its origins in the United States go back more than a century. Hawaii and Arizona are the only states that don’t observe it.
Fans of the yearly change like that extra hour of daylight. Opponents rail against the disruption and cite studies about increased health problems and car crashes.
Many parents and teachers have opposed permanent Daylight Saving Time, saying it would make for darker mornings for kids headed to school.
So as the annual ritual approaches, debate rages on.
Marty Maranto of St. Petersburg has been writing her congressman to go year-round. “Yes, it’s dark when we get up, but by the time we’re out the door or at school or at the office, it’s daylight,” she said via email. “But when we drive home in the wee winter hours it’s dark and that’s more dangerous for the roads.”
Wrote Munger: “We are the Sunshine State and we all should get to enjoy as much of it as we can year-round.”
Then, the other side: “I was stationed in Guam for 4 years where there was no time change,” Botto wrote. “It was wonderful. It worked perfectly. Chaos did not ensue because the time did not change.”
Then from Ron Fandrick of New Port Richey came the suggestion of compromise: “Why don’t they just move clocks back 1/2 hour and leave it alone all the time?”
For now, at least, remember to fall back Sunday.