Spring forward: Czechia switches to summer time this weekend

Clocks will go forward by one hour in the early hours of Sunday, March 26. Opinion polls suggest that people are generally against the change.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 23.03.2023 11:30:00 (updated on 01.04.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic, together with the EU, will push clocks one hour forward on Sunday, March 26, as countries switch to Central European Summer Time.

The time change will occur at 2 a.m. in Czechia. This means that one minute after 1:59 a.m., the time will be 3 a.m. Summer time will last until the last Sunday of October, when clocks will fall one hour back.

Those taking any mode of scheduled transport during the night of March 25 and the early hours of March 26 should remember the time change, as some night trains will be delayed for an hour. The same goes for people with meetings or appointments scheduled on the morning of March 26.

The history of time changes

Summer time, originally intended to contribute to energy savings, has been applied in the whole of Europe except for Russia, Belarus, Iceland, Greenland, and the Norwegian islands Jan Mayen and Svalbard since 1979.

In 1996, the duration of Central European Summer Time was extended from six to seven months under an EU directive.

The first concept of summer time was introduced in Czech lands during World War I in 1915 and kept in 1916, but was then abolished. The Nazis reintroduced the time change in occupied Czechoslovakia in 1940, and it was kept after the end of the war until 1949 when the ruling Communist Party abolished it.

Time to change?

Recent years have seen debate on whether the twice-yearly changes to time (also occurring in October) should even exist. People against the idea claim that the switching of times disturbs humans’ natural biorhythm. Opponents also believe that the change no longer brings about any significant energy savings.

According to a survey by the STEM/MARK agency in 2018, 70 percent of Czech respondents agreed with the abolition of the time change. A total of 44 percent wanted permanent summer time and 24 percent wanted to keep winter time.

Proponents of daylight saving time argue that it encourages outdoor leisure activity in the summer by providing longer days. Arguments also exist that crime is lower with daylight saving time in the spring, according to a Stanford University study, and slightly fewer road-traffic accidents with clocks springing forward.

The European Commission proposed in 2018 that the time switch be canceled, but this required the agreement of EU states – something that was unable to be reached.

On an EU level, the majority of people are against the time changes. An EU-wide survey found that eight in 10 respondents were in favor of halting the time switches, Deutsche Welle reports.

In 2021, the Czech government approved a regulation under which the summer time would continue for the next five years. 

Czechs and the majority of Europeans will for now need to continue adjusting their clocks twice yearly. One day, however, this custom may change – only time will tell.

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