I love the annual death of Daylight Savings Time (or, as I understand it is now to be called, Daylight Saving Time, without the s; or, as my dictionary prefers to call it, daylight-saving time). And I’m certainly far from thrilled with the notion of it starting a month earlier and lasting for an extra week beginning next year, which I understand is supposed to do what DST has always tried to do: conserve our energy resources. (Apparently solar energy and wind power is still off the table.)
American farmers and, according to one book, “defeated urban dwellers,” got DST repealed during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, causing all sorts of confusion and a few train wrecks. WWII got DST back in place, then after the war, more chaos, because each locality could start and end DST as it desired:
One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. And on one West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars of costs to several industries, especially transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the equivalent today of over $12 million per year.
Interestingly, one of the most vocal contingents to oppose DST in the 1930s were the Fundamentalist preachers, who considered it an offense against God. They felt the government had taken the country off “God’s time” and put it onto clock time. Now, God’s time, in the mind of people who use that phrase, really means “sun time,” but by 1883 most Americans were off of sun time anyway because the railroads had put us on “standard time”—the railroads had simply imposed it on the country as a commercial necessity. Sorry, Fundies, God didn’t invent standard time—the railroads did.
Of course, contrarian that I am, I’d prefer an entire world run on sun time: an unchanging twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness. Wonderfully precise, don’t you think? Only the actual length of those hours would change, and they’d wax and wane as the seasons changed.
Granted, it would wreak havoc on the aforementioned train schedules, and television programs would have to be considerably longer in the summer than it is around Yule. But just think of the economic boost, as everyone would be forced to get brand new, specially engineered clocks and watches that could slow down or speed up to keep pace with the sun!
Seriously, though: with DST off, the night comes upon us so much more suddenly. It’s a shock to the system, but a good shock, I think.
In pagan Celtic terms, it coincides almost exactly with Samhain, the beginning of the Dark Half of the Year. (If you’ve ever wondered why the solstices were anciently called Midwinter and Midsummer, it’s because the year was divided in two: dark and light, “winter” and “summer,” and their midpoints were the solstices).
Even here in steamy Florida, it suddenly makes me want to huddle closer to the fire, drink cocoa or mulled cider with friends, and engage in some wonderful storytelling.
That’s what makes it God’s time for me.