the time change has been giving Spaniards headaches for almost a century

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Tonight, millions of people will change the time and sleep one hour less: at two it will be three. A few weeks ago, in fact, millions of others changed it too. Despite all the years we have wasted discussing the pros and cons of the time change, it is what it is. And it is what he has played for many, many years.


Daylight is a rare commodity. Although the idea of ​​changing the time to make better use of the day has been on the table for centuries and Benjamin Franklin himself dedicated himself to designing measures (such as putting a tax on shutters, restricting candles, or ringing bells in the morning) to wake up fellow citizens earlier during the summer months. The truth is that we owe the modern time change to the English builder William Willett.

In 1907, Willett printed a pamphlet called ‘The waste of daylight‘ in which he proposed to advance the time 20 minutes every Sunday in April (and to do the opposite every Sunday in September). In this way, during the summer, 80 minutes of useful light were gained. Willet moved heaven and earth to convince English politicians that his project made sense, but it took a war for them to take him seriously: the First World War.

It was then, in full coal restriction due to military needs, when the different countries began to introduce the idea. Germany and the United Kingdom began to apply it in 1916, Russia in 17 and the US in 18. Just that year, on April 15, the change was regulated at the international level.

Spain took it easy. Perhaps because Spain had remained relatively unaware of the First World War, it was not in a great hurry to introduce the time change in the country. Let us remember that until a few years ago (until January 1, 1901) each province had a local meridian and, therefore, its own time. At that time, things in the palace were slow.

In the case of the time change, despite the international convention, the time it was not changed the years “between 1920 and 1923, in 1925 and between 1930 and 1936”. In 1936, the Civil War broke out and, in the midst of such a bloody conflict, the time change began to be useful (as it had been in the countries involved in the IGM): the problem is that each side did what it considered appropriate.

When Madrid and Barcelona did not have the same time: the day that Spain changed its time for the Greenwich meridian

The war that took place at two different times. For example, the Republican government added an hour on April 2, 1938 and, 28 days later, added another. The rebels, for their part, only added one, on March 26. As the republic only deducted one of those hours at the end of the summer, the result is that until the end of the war the different areas of Spain were at different times.

This has caused researchers to go crazy for years because the reports from both sides did not quite coincide. In fact, strictly speaking, Fernando Fernández de Córdoba read what is known as “last part of war“On April 1, 1939, it was not yet 10:30 p.m. in all of peninsular Spain.

In silence, the Government has just given up the debate on the end of the time change

But, above all, caused an incident worthy of a Berlanga film: 1939 began in Republican Spain one hour earlier than in the national. With the end of the War (and the change of time zone to align with continental Europe and the Franco-German axis) the time of peninsular Spain was once again one. In short, it cannot be said that the problems related to the time change are something new.

Image | Sinitta Leunen

Tonight, millions of people will change the time and sleep one hour less: at two it will be three. A…

Tonight, millions of people will change the time and sleep one hour less: at two it will be three. A…

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