30 Oct, 2021 @ 11:30
2 mins read

Clocks go back this weekend but here’s why Spain is in the wrong time zone

Clock puerta del sol Jorge Franganillo/Flickr
Clock puerta del sol Jorge Franganillo/Flickr

THE days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and soon you’ll be treated to an extra hour in your warm bed, thanks to the end of daylight saving time.

Every year, the clocks go forward an hour in the spring, so that evening daylight lasts longer, and back again in the autumn, as the days get shorter.

But did you know that thanks to dictator General Francisco Franco’s desire to align with Nazi Germany that Spain is in the wrong time zone?

When do the clocks go back in Spain?

The clocks go back on the morning of Sunday 31 October at 03:00.

That means all clocks are turned back to 02:00 at that time.

In the Canary Islands the clocks will go back at 02:00, becoming 01:00. 

Good news if you’re celebrating Halloween and fancy an extra late night – or an extra hour in bed the next day! 

But don’t forget to adjust your alarm clock – or you could find yourself having your cafe con leche and tostada too early.

To avoid confusion, simply memorise the phrase “’spring forward, fall back’.

Why do the clocks go back? 

The idea of daylight saving time was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin, the American inventor and scientist.

However, it wasn’t until 1907 that a serious proposal for daylight saving time was made in Britain by William Willett in his self-published a pamphlet called ‘The Waste of Daylight’.

Daylight saving time was first implemented during World War I by Germany and Austria, and then by the allies a few weeks later, to save on coal usage.

While the UK has always had daylight savings time since it was first introduced, it came into widespread use across the world during the 1970s because of the energy crisis.

All EU member states must abide by the changing of the clocks to achieve energy savings and take advantage of natural light. 

It also makes roads safer and helps the tourism industry. 

Why Spain is in the wrong time zone

The reason Spain is aligned with central Europe instead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone is all the fault of fascism.

Madrid lies due south of London, which means it should naturally be in the same time zone as the UK and Portugal and indeed it was until 1940, when Franco took the decision to shift the time zone to align with Nazi Germany.

Spain has remained in the Central European Time zone ever since, a fact which experts believe has a lasting negative impact on Spanish work culture and society.

In 2013 a special commission set up to explore the issue concluded that Spaniards sleep almost an hour less than the European average, leading to increased stress, concentration problems, and workplace accidents.

The debate about which time zone Spain belongs in became key with EU level proposals to scrap the daylight savings custom. 

In 2018 the EU Commission announced a proposal to abolish the custom after polling showed that 80 percent of Europeans are in favour of staying permanently on summer time.

The proposal was due to come into force last  year but was derailed by the pandemic and has a date has not yet been set for the permanent change, but Spain will have to decide whether it wants to remain permanently on summer time or revert back to GMT.


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