Summer Time starts March 25

Remember to put you clocks ahead an hour

Despite the rather chilly weather, Summer Time is about to start — that is on clocks at least.

“Spring ahead, fall back,” is the simple way to remember what to do with clocks when it is time to change them. Central European Summer Time (CEST) this year begins on Sunday, March 25, at 2 am. It lasts until Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3 am. Colloquially it is called daylight saving time, but that term actually used in the US, Canada and Australia.

European Summer Time is now observed between 1:00 UTC on the last Sunday of March and 1:00 on the last Sunday of October. The dates for starting and stopping in the US and some other non-EU countries are different, which causes confusion. Czechoslovakia has been using Summer Time since 1979.

Most computers and smart appliances now reset the time on their own, but manual clocks and watches generally need to be fixed by hand.

The time change causes some confusion with train, bus and airline schedules. It is important to check with the carrier if you are traveling in the late night or early morning hours when the change occurs.

Increasingly, people have been calling to end the practice of changing the times as it seems to serve no real purpose any longer. One argument has been that it saves energy, but with energy efficient lights that is no longer the case.

Summer Time was first introduced during World War I. Most countries discontinued the practice after the war. It was used again in World War II, but was widely canceled by the 1950s. In the late 1960s the energy crisis saw it reintroduced.

Different countries in Europe had different practices and this caused problems with transport and communications. Starting in 1981 the European Community began issuing directives to standardize start and end dates for Summer Time, and there have been several adjustments over the years.

One clock in Prague that can’t follow the change is the Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square. It is currently under renovation and is replaced by an LED screen. 

While its complicated-to-read face shows several different times including Old Bohemian time based on the sunset as well as Central European Time, the clock cannot be made to show Summer Time and Winter Time. The clock tracks the movements of the sun and moon, linking them to the time, and this can't be pushed back or forward without redesigning the entire clock mechanism. The Astronomical Clock was designed in 1410, long before the Summer Time concept.

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