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Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

Why do we turn our clocks back one hour in the fall, just to spring ahead again four months later?

Why do we have daylight saving time? And why are days longer in summer and shorter in winter?

Daylight saving time is really just a trick. At least, so says Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. He's our guest in this episode and he explains the reasons behind this semi-annual ritual of moving the clocks forward and back.


In this episode we learn about the origin of daylight saving time and standard time. If you've always thought the reason for daylight saving time was some vague explanation about farming, Downing will set you straight. And we'll explore how this practice got standardized across the United States and beyond.

Plus, our kid listeners share their own perspectives on how changing the clocks affects them.

Credit courtesy from parents
Judah, 7, in Los Angeles, wonders why we have daylight savings time. Holly, 6, from Dublin, Ireland, wants to know why the days are longer in summer and shorter in winter.

Read the full transcript

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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