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Spring forward: when and why Ukraine switches to daylight saving time in 2023

More than a hundred years ago, Europeans started changing clocks for daylight saving time to save electric energy. However, the world has changed so drastically since then that the time change is no longer beneficial for the economy. The Page explains why daylight saving time is obsolete and when Ukraine can ditch it.

When the clocks are advanced in 2023

Ukraine traditionally changes the clocks for daylight saving time on the last Sunday in March. In 2023, the Ukrainians will advance their clocks one hour ahead at 3:00 a.m., March 26.

Why has daylight saving time been introduced?

Notably, daylight saving time, which is called "summer time" in Ukraine, is a rather recent invention of humankind. Meanwhile, the so-called winter time is the standard time of the respective time zone.

The first person to advocate for the introduction of daylight saving time was the inventor and journalist Benjamin Franklin in 1784. However, his whimsical essay on the calculation of candle wax savings in Paris resulting from setting the clock ahead caused more chuckles than serious considerations.

For the second time, this idea was conceived by William Willett, a British architect, in 1907. One summer morning, he woke up unusually early, when all the windows were still closed, and was astounded to realize how much of the daytime was wasted. In the British Parliament, he advocated for advancing the clocks by 80 minutes in the spring and returning them to normal in the fall. However, this proposition didn’t come to life at that time.

The first countries that introduced daylight saving time to save electric energy were Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1916.

Why daylight saving time should be abolished

As time passed, more countries started to adopt daylight saving time. But in recent years, its usefulness has been increasingly questioned. The first reason cited by the opponents of time change is the negative impact on health.

How switching to daylight saving time affects health:

  • disrupted circadian rhythms lead to insomnia and headaches;
  • chronic illnesses are aggravated;
  • the risk of myocardial infarction increases;
  • the number of traffic accidents increases.

Secondly, the lives of today’s people can have very different rhythms, so shifting time doesn’t save electricity anymore. Most importantly, large manufacturing companies, not households, are major electricity consumers today. These giants generally work in shifts around the clock, and changing the clocks back and forth twice a year has no effect on their operations.

What countries still have daylight saving time?

Countries in red have never used DST; countries in yellow have previously used DST; and countries in blue continue to use DST. Infographics by Paul Eggert, Wikimedia

Countries in red have never used DST; countries in yellow have previously used DST; and countries in blue continue to use DST. Infographics by Paul Eggert, Wikimedia

Why hasn’t Ukraine abolished daylight saving time?

In 2011, Russia switched to summer time for the last time and has never changed the clocks since. The self-proclaimed Transnistrian Republic and Belarus followed suit.

Ukraine also tried to quit changing the clocks in 2011, but the attempt failed: in the country’s west, morning started too early, when it was too dark. The Uzhhorod City Council even recommended that companies start their working day an hour later.

Therefore, it was decided that time changes in a large country like Ukraine needed more consideration. However, in ten years, the Verkhovna Rada still failed to adopt a bill on abolishing daylight saving time and sent it for revision.

Some have proposed to introduce two time zones in Ukraine. The rationale behind it is that under permanent DST, the sun would rise after 9:00 a.m. in winter in Uzhhorod. Meanwhile in Kharkiv, under standard time (UTC+2), sunrise would be at 3:00 a.m. in summer.

The European Union also plans on ditching daylight saving time. A 2019 decision was to abolish DST in 2021, but Europe still changes the clocks.

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