German word of the day: Die Sommerzeit

Why do I need to know this word?

The phrase will come in handy this weekend if you want to lament a lost hour of sleep in the morning or celebrate the extra hour of daylight in the evening. 

What does it mean? 

Die Sommerzeit translates to “summertime” or “summer season,” and refers to daylight saving time, which begins this weekend in many European countries, including Germany. At 2:00 am on Sunday, the clocks will spring one hour ahead.

In the UK, this period is known as “British Summer Time” – one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – while in North America, daylight saving time is used more commonly.

As it turns out, die Sommerzeit actually originated in Germany. The German Empire, along with Austria-Hungary, introduced the practice in 1916 in order to conserve fuel during World War I, with the idea being that the extra daylight would reduce the use of artificial lighting, allowing the surplus fuel to be put towards the war efforts. Within weeks, many other countries across Europe followed suit. In the following years, the practice spread to Australia and the U.S as well.

But after the war, daylight saving grew unpopular in Europe. It wasn’t used on a large scale again until World War II, when Germany again popularized the practice. But a few years after the war ended, it fell out of favor for the second time. It only picked up again when France reintroduced it in 1976, in response to an energy crisis sparked by the oil embargo in 1973. By 1996, the EU standardized the saving time schedule, which now runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. 

But the future daylight saving time looks uncertain once again. In 2019, the European Parliament voted to abolish the practice, however efforts to actually implement this measure have stalled. So at least for this year, die Sommerzeit will continue.  

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in March 2023

Use it like this: 

Wann beginnt die Sommerzeit? 

When does daylight saving time start?

Ich kann die Sommerzeit kaum erwarten!

I can’t wait for daylight saving time!

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