Remember to change clocks to Winter Time in the Czech Republic this weekend

Changes to EU rules have not taken effect yet, and people still need to set back clocks

Summer Time ends and Winter Time starts October 27 at 3 am. People across the Czech Republic are supposed to set clocks back one hour to 2 am. Most computers, phones and similar electronics do this automatically these days.

Old-school watches and clocks still need to be adjusted by hand. An easy way to remember what to do is the phrase “spring ahead, fall back.”

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People also need to double-check departure times for trains, planes and other formed of transportation, especially at night.

While the European Union is in the process of ending the practice of changing clocks back and forth, that has not taken effect yet. Current EU rules still require all member states to change clocks, as this makes international travel and business easier if the times are coordinated.

If the current proposals are adopted without changes, the last changing of clocks would take place October 31, 2021. Surveys showed that 80% of people in the EU opposed changing clocks.

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Some non-EU countries have already stopped the practice, including Russia, Turkey, Belarus and Iceland.

Many people refer to the time change as Daylight Saving Time, but in Europe, the term is actually Summer Time. Daylight Saving Time in the Americas ends November 3.

The practice of changing the time originally was meant to save energy use, but with modern efficient lights and people’s flexible work schedules, the energy savings is actually quite small.

One clock in Prague that can’t change is Old Town Square’s Astronomical Clock. While its complicated face shows several different times such as Old Bohemian time, Babylonian time, Old German time and sidereal time, the clock cannot be made to skip an hour. The clock tracks the movements of the sun and moon against the zodiac, linking them to the time, and this can’t be pushed back or forward.

old town clock
Face of the Old Town Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Tower. via Raymond Johnston

Communist authorities tried to do so, with the result being the time was correct but the positions of the zodiac, sun and moon were significantly wrong for half the year.

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The Astronomical Clock was built in 1410, and the practice of moving the clock back and forth an hour according to the seasons started in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany in 1916 to save energy during World War I.

Summer Time in Europe fell out of use after World War I ended and was reintroduced during World War II, only to fall out of favor again until the power shortages of the 1960s. The European Community, a precursor to the European Union, issued a directive in 1981 for all of its members regarding the starting date of Summer Time, but there were still differences in the ending date.

In 1998, the end of Summer Time (and the start of Winter Time) was adjusted to be the last Sunday in October for all EU member states.

Clocks will next change March 29, 2020, by going ahead an hour.

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