This Sunday at 2 a.m. local time, most residents of the U.S. will turn back their clocks an hour marking the conclusion of daylight saving time. What started us on this ritual in the first place?
While the Fall temporal transition is often a welcome one — given that one glorious hour of extra sleep — the hassle of resetting our clocks often leaves people wondering why we practice the seemingly meaningless ritual in the first place.
Some of the reasons are obvious: extra daylight for retailers, for example, and sporting events that benefit from taking place during those precious daylight days. Others are more obscure, and even the argument that it saves energy has recently been called into question.
The concept of shifting clocks for optimal daylight and energy benefits has been around since ancient civilizations, when many societies adopted flexible systems dictated by the sun. The Romans had a specific water clock for each month of the year, dividing daylight into twelve hours regardless of the length of day.