Wartime Hour

The first large-scale war in Europe since World War II this year pushed into the background the debate about the introduction/abolition of the so-called “summer time”. Therefore, as it has already become customary, at 4.00 a. m. on the last Sunday in October, we will set our clocks back one hour. Although most electronic devices already do this automatically for a long time.

Actually, the history of the appearance of summer time is closely connected with the war — and not even the Second, but the First World War. Although some attempts to introduce clock changes in some limited territories were made at the beginning of the XX century, this phenomenon became really widespread only in 1916-1918. Interestingly, although the initiators and main supporters of this idea lived mostly in English-speaking countries, their rivals, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, were the first to introduce “summer time”. This happened on April 30, 1916, and was explained primarily by the need to conserve natural resources, to which the two “continental empires” had limited access. Great Britain with colonies and the Russian Empire practically did not suffer from such restrictions, but the following year they began to clock changes. The United States followed their example in 1918.

After the end of the war, almost all countries refused to change clocks or left it at the discretion of local administrations. The RSFSR, which replaced the Russian Empire, used “summer time” for four more years, but this practice was abolished in the USSR, which was created at the end of 1922. They remembered about it on June 21, 1930, but in the autumn they did not “subtract” the added hour and left it on a permanent basis under the name of “maternity time”. 

These “temporary jumps” practically did not cause misunderstandings in communications with neighboring countries, since the “state of workers and peasants” was quite tightly isolated from the outside world. But in the end, on April 1, 1981, they again introduced the practice of “clock changes” and began adding an hour to maternity time. Since then, for three decades from April to October, the Russian Federation lived by a strange time, two hours ahead of the time zone. Only in 2011, the “summer time” was abolished there. At the same time, Belarus joined this decision.

At the same time, openly pro-Russian politicians were in power in Ukraine, and they tried to push a similar decision through the Verkhovna Rada. All these attempts were blocked, and since 2014, when our country finally chose a course for Euro-Atlantic integration, we have been coordinating the issue of abandoning daylight saving time with the European Union, where discussions are still ongoing on this issue. Anyway, no one is going to cancel the return to winter time (standard time of the second eastern belt) this year. Therefore, on Sunday, October 30, we will be able to sleep an hour longer again — at least, those who are not directly involved in the fighting.

Now, the obvious reason for additional measures that will contribute to energy conservation is almost daily power outages caused by enemy rocket attacks. And thanks to the clock changes, we will no longer live at the same time as the capital of the occupying country. This has a certain symbolic meaning and can be a good argument for supporters of the introduction of a permanent “winter” time in Ukraine. But, perhaps, it is better to postpone all such discussions until peaceful times.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time