The myth behind daylight saving time, which officially ends at 2 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 6, is that farmers campaigned to implement it, according to a report by, appropriately, Time magazine, which explains that the real origin of the practice is much more complicated.
The report notes that this Sunday’s end to daylight saving time for the year will mark a century since the first daylight saving time went into effect.
“That daylight saving time began in Germany on May 1, 1916, in the hopes that it would save energy during World War I, according to Michael Downing, author of ‘Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,'” the story reports.
But the Germans probably got the idea from a Brit, William Willett, who published “The Waste of Daylight” in 1907.
“Willett was inspired by an early-morning epiphany that ‘the sun shines upon the land for several hours each day while we are asleep’ and yet there ‘remains only a brief spell of declining daylight in which to spend the short period of leisure at our disposal.'” Time notes. “Though he did mention that it would save money to reduce the use of artificial lighting, his main purpose was the increased enjoyment of sunlight. He lobbied Parliament for such legislation until his death in 1915 — not living to see the law passed in England shortly after it was in Germany.”
The U.S. soon followed suit, implementing its own daylight saving time law on March 19, 1918, again with the intended goal of saving energy. However, the report notes that a recent study determined that daylight saving time actually has the opposite effect.
A series of daylight saving laws have come and gone in the past century, and since 2005 the country has been observing about eight months of daylight saving time each year.