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When do we turn the clocks ahead an hour?

Angela Moore/MarketWatch

Desperately seeking signs of spring.

Some things always seem to signal the change from winter to spring. The first crocus. The sound of birds chirping. Turning the clocks ahead an hour.

On Sunday, March 8, at 2 a.m., people in most areas of the U.S. will turn their clocks ahead one hour to Daylight Saving (not “Savings”) Time.

You may have already noticed that it’s staying lighter later, thanks to the normal course of the Earth’s movements in relation to the sun, but Daylight Saving Time turbocharges this process. Of course, no daylight is actually being saved. We’re just moving an hour of daylight to later in the day — so, for example, on March 8 when the clock reads 6 p.m., it will look pretty much as bright as it was at 5 p.m. the day before. By the time June is here, we’ll be able to enjoy the twilight well into the evening.

Not everyone participates in this temporal engineering. A handful of U.S. states and territories, including most of Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, stick to Standard Time, notes timeanddate.com. (Most of Indiana no longer does and is solidly on Eastern Time.)


Many people welcome the tradition of “springing” forward. It means an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, and signals the approach of spring and summer. So what’s the problem?

Well, some people complain about the lost hour of sleep (although they’ll probably be back on their game within a day or so), as well as the dark mornings for early-bird commuters. And be careful: Some studies show there’s an uptick in morning accidents after the switch because people aren’t used to traveling in the darkness.

Haters can start counting down the days until we (in the U.S.) turn our clocks back an hour and “fall” back to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November.

Take note: In Europe, Daylight Saving Time doesn’t begin until the last Sunday in March (March 29 this year), and Asia, for the most part, doesn’t get involved.

So even though we still have a few weeks to go until it’s officially spring, and in much of the country a lot longer until it actually feels like spring, celebrating Daylight Saving Time is a first step.

Angela Moore