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Yesterday I got a hand out in school about the history of haloween and daylight savings, so for those interested, I thought I'll share.
History of Haloween
Haloween, October 31, the eve of All Sain'ts Day, observed with traditional games and customs. The word comes from medieval England's All Hallows' eve (Old Engl. Hallow = Saint). However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back to Celtic practises associated with November 1st - the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of dainty foods and seets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid daemonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of celtic influences today, such as the United States where children go from door to door in costumes demanding trick or treat.
N. Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night (2002)
D.J. Skal, Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween (2002).
History of Daylight Saving
A system of setting clocks on or two hours ahead so that both sunrise and sunset occur at a later hour, producing an additional period of daylight in the evening. In the Northern Temperate Zone, clocks are usually set ahead one hour in the spring ("spring forward") and set back ("fall back") one hour in the fall.
The idea of daylight saving was written in an essay in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin; it was first advocated seriously by a British builder, William Willete, in his pamphlet Waste of Daylight (1907). Daylight saving has been used in the United States and in many European counties since World War I, when the system was adopted in order to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power. Some localities reverted to standard time after World War I, but others retained daylight saving. During World War II, the U.S. Congress passed a law putting the entire country on "War Time", which set clocks on hour ahead of standard time for the duration of the war. "War Time" was also followed in Great Britain, where clocks were put ahead still another hour during the summer.
In the U.S. during peacetime, daylight saving was a subject of controversy. Farmers, who usually work schedules determined by "Sun Time" and are therefore inconvenienced when they must conduct business on a different time basis, registered strong opposition. Railroad, bus, and airline scheduling was established a system of uniform (within each time zone) daylight saving time throught the U.S. and its possessions, exempting only those states in which the state legislature voted to keep the entire state on standard time. Under legislature enacted in 1986, daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April, and ends at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.
Fire Marshals use daylight savings as a reminder to change the batteries in your smoke and fire alarms as well as other alamrs that may be found in and around your house.
"Daylight Saving," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation, All rights reserved.
Cheers! (And sorry, I'm a bit late..)