Spring Forward, Fall Back

Daylight on the planetLast weekend, much of Europe “sprung forward” to daylight saving time while our friends in Australia who observe this semi-annual time-changing ritual “fell back” to standard time. And this weekend in North America (except Saskatchewan, Hawaii and most of Arizona), we followed Europe’s lead and “sprung forward.” Interestingly, next fall, on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ll be “falling back” on the same weekend, while those in the southern hemisphere will “spring forward.” If such triviana interests you, check out this page.

I never gave much thought to time zones and daylight saving time until last year. But work on the infamous TextStyleM system forced me to do some research on this. Thus I learned that Newfoundland, the butt of many jokes for being one half-hour ahead of the Maritime provinces, is not alone in the “half zone” category. Afghanistan and India are also x.5 hours ahead or behind most other places on Earth.

My favorite zone: The Chatham Islands’, which is unique by being 1.75 hour ahead of the rest of New Zealand.

My least favorite “zone”: A new time zone should be created/named for the U.S. state of Indiana. Let it hereafter be known as the Twilight Zone. I can deal with places like Saskatchewan and Hawaii that decide they don’t want to play temporal yo-yo. But Indiana, quite simply, doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.

Indiana is in the Eastern Time Zone in the United States. Eastern Standard Time (EST) is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5).

Unlike most states in the U.S., the majority of Indiana does not follow Daylight Saving Time.

When the US is on Standard Time, most of Indiana (including Indianapolis) is the same time as New York. When the U.S. is on Daylight Saving Time, most of Indiana (including Indianapolis) is the same time as Chicago.

There are exceptions: 11 counties in the northwest and southwest of the state occupy the Central Time Zone and do adopt Daylight-Saving Time. In addition, 5 counties in the south and southeast unofficially observe Eastern Daylight-Saving Time.

I mean, really! Is the state so boring that it needs to draw attention to itself by any means? Or should I not be surprised about this confusion given that it is coming from the state that gave the U.S. its 44th vice-president, who didn’t know that the singular of potato has no terminal E?

Anyway, while I was doing my research on time zones and daylight saving time, I discovered that many people, particularly in the U.S., quite adamantly believe that DST is an antiquated practice that ought to be abolished. There again I hadn’t given any thought to that; I just saw it as something that had become arbitrarily accepted, just as most Christians arbitrarily accept to celebrate Christmas on December 25. For me, it’s just something that is.

DST is probably best for places that are 40 to 60 degrees north or south of the equator. It is absolutely delightful to see the sunshine well after 9 or even 10 p.m. during the longest days of the year. Yet for Halifax, I wouldn’t mind if we’d be one time zone ahead and didn’t observe DST. It might be a drag to have to sun rise close to 9:00 a.m. in December, but at least it would be daylight until 5:30ish. It’s terribly depressing to be in darkness by 5 p.m.

{1} Thought on “Spring Forward, Fall Back

  1. Flying to Ottawa, I forgot to ajust my watch to “Ottawa time”. On Saturday night, in the hotel room, I adjusted my watch to daylight saving time. Flying back from Ottawa to Montreal, the flight attendant reminded us to adjust our watches forward (for those who forgot); my head being in the clouds, I adjusted my watch again. So, I realised that my connection for Moncton, in Montreal, was at 18:00. We landed, according to my watch, at 17:45. I raced from one terminal to the other, only to discover it was in fact 15:45.

Comments are closed.