Europe to Set Clocks Back for Winter Time This Weekend, Possibly for the Last Time

Geneva's iconic flower clock

By Paul Riegler on 25 October 2018
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Most European nations will adjust their clocks back one hour early Sunday as the cutover from Summer Time to Winter Time, a move akin to the switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time in the United States, takes place.

The change from Summer Time to Winter Time is observed in every European nation except Iceland and Belarus.

This may be the last time Europeans set their clocks back one hour. In September, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc announced that the European Union will stop the twice-yearly changing of clocks across the continent in October 2019.

EU member states would have until April 2019 to decide whether they would permanently remain on Summer or Winter Time.

The idea for modern Winter Time and Summer Time can be traced back to the First World War, although the practice ended when the war was over. It was reinstated by many European nations during the Second World War, only to be discontinued yet again in the 1950s.

The European Community brought unity to the Continent’s timekeeping with the adoption of Summer Time in 1981, with a start date on the last Sunday in March. The cutover date for Winter Time has changed nine times since then.

Both Summer Time and Daylight Saving Time are similar as they are both systems that manage the changing amounts of daylight that occur during the year, with the goal of maximizing daylight hours during the workday. Many credit Benjamin Franklin with the concept, as he said the idea would save an “immense sum” in the cost of candles, although his remarks are now believed to have been somewhat in jest. The United States first adopted the practice in the early twentieth century, largely as an energy-saving measure.

Daylight Saving Time will end in the United States in the early morning hours of November 4. Until then, times in Europe and the U.S. will be off by an hour greater than usual. The time difference between Central Europe and the East Coast of the United States will be five hours, instead of six, until the United States returns to Standard Time.

In 2019, Summer Time in Europe will begin on March 31, two weeks after Daylight Saving Time starts in North America on March 10.

Most of Asian, African, and South American countries do not perform such time adjustments.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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