On a Sunday in 2005, my family dressed as usual and attended our church at the time, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva. We were about five minutes late due to the challenge of . We huffed and puffed up the cobblestone street to the opened iron gates of the Lutheran Church. Something was strange as we hung our coats in the vestibule and entered the open church. Everyone looked unfamiliar except one guy. Some congregation members were staring at us in confusion, while others had a knowing smirk on their faces. We stayed in the back row of the seating, mostly in shame. Daylight saving time gave us an extra hour, and we wasted it listening to an entire church service in German.
The Lutheran church had two services every Sunday, German, and English. We sat through the German service and bore the remarks at the end of the service telling us that they figured since we were not familiar, we must not have changed our clocks. Then we waited around and also attended the English version of the service. We don’t speak German. We are not even Lutheran. However, it was the first multi-ethnic, multinational, multilingual church I found in Geneva since May 2001 during my first visit to work in Geneva on trade policy. My boss in the WTO Secretariat invited me to his church—St. Peter’s Cathedral, his namesake. Despite just arriving in town that week, I am still unsure how I missed the mammoth 12th Century cathedral topped by a towering steeple over the city just a few more steps up the hill from the Lutheran Church.
I recount the humiliation of not understanding why they kept changing the time. Spring forward-fall backward. Can’t we stick to the time? I know the history of the invention. In 1966, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to have workers home for fewer hours in the dark when they would use more light. That was supposed to save energy. However, that argument is flawed since we consume more electricity from other things like air conditioning, heating, and my fancy Antiguan cooking on an electric stove. There are many studies about the health and well-being consequences of our out-of-sync sleeping patterns for eight months of the year of daylight saving time.
Like ordinary human beings (I exclude vampires), I wake up with the sun and start slowing down to sleep as the sun sets. At least that’s in the Caribbean, where the sunsets around 6:00 AM and rises around 6:00 PM, conveniently giving enough time to get to work and back. This biological time-induced behavior is part of my circadian rhythm. I struggle in temperate regions where I go to work in the dark and return home at night, despite daylight saving time. Days are shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. I once spent a week in Helsinki, where the sunset was at midnight, and the sunrise was at 3:00 AM. I was grateful for the blackout blinds in my hotel.
Who Hates Daylight Saving Time?
Today, while most people are in my camp as haters of daylight saving time, big money has kept this ruse going. The U.S. Chambers of Commerce is a big supporter of daylight saving time. We have daylight saving time because it encourages us to shop, play sports, eat at restaurants, drive our cars more, and spend more money. Farmers hate daylight saving time just as much as I do.
Furthermore, I ain’t buying this anymore, because, in modern times, people will shop when they need stuff, whether it’s dark or not. I need groceries and will intentionally wait until nighttime to prove my point. The problem is that many businesses do not open late because of America’s labor shortage since the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are revisiting Geneva, Switzerland, maybe for WTO’s Geneva Week or the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee Meeting, and want a safe church to meet people and worship, check out ELCG. They are not giving me advertising credit, but I truly enjoyed my time there and made some lifetime friends. Check out their times here. They welcome all denominations and even religions if you are exploring. I grew up practicing Methodism, and everyone else varied in their origins.