If you’ve found recent mornings a little too dark, don’t worry, help is on its way. At 3am next Sunday 29 October 2017, Swiss time moves back one hour, giving Swiss residents an extra hour to sleep (or party). Until fairly recently however, there was no Daylight Saving Time (DST) in Switzerland.
In 1978 Swiss voters rejected plans to move to the current system of DST when 52.1% voted against it in a referendum.
Arguments against DST centred on farmers and school children. Farm workers were concerned an extra hour of summer daylight would increase their work time. Some were concerned that Swiss school children, who start early by European standards, would suffer if they had to rise an hour earlier in the summer. Arguments in favour of the change focused on coordination with surrounding European countries – train timetables, shop opening times, cross-border traffic, tourism and foreign television and radio broadcasts were cited.
Four years later in 1981, despite earlier voter rejection, the Swiss government adopted DST, bringing the country into line with EU DST standards. Switzerland was the last country in Western Europe to adopt the system.
The idea of daylight savings was first proposed by New Zealander George Hudson in 1895 and first used in Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1916 to save energy.
In the US, it was first used in 1918, but only formally implemented across the nation in 1966, with rules allowing states to opt out.
While most of Europe and North America now use it, much of the world does not. China, Russia, Japan, India, most of Africa and most of South America do not shift their clocks in summer. Some countries such as the US, Australia and Canada have regions that do and regions that don’t. For example most of the US state of Arizona and Hawaii do not have daylight saving while the rest of the country does.
The world map below shows the regions that use it in blue.
DST returns to Switzerland on Sunday 25 March 2018.
Official Swiss federal vote explanation (in French)