“The measurement of time,” said Alex Reifsnyder, “is something that doesn’t really get altered any time throughout the year except for these two days.”
Mr. Reifsnyder, 28, was of course referring to the second Sunday in March, when daylight saving time starts in the United States, and the first Sunday in November when it … wah – wah … ends.
“I’ve just always found it to be so fascinating to watch,” he added.
As an 11-year-old growing up in Downingtown, Pa., he began to beg his parents to let him stay up to watch the clocks change — backward in the fall and ahead in the spring — on the cable box. “They would either give in or I would sneak down to the family room,” he said.
Now, as an adult who lives in Phoenixville, Pa., where he works as a part-time content creator and warehouse supervisor, he makes it a point to stay up every time the clocks change to see it happen live.
“This weekend I am probably going to make a toast to it,” he said.
“I am the type of person who enjoys the little things in life,” he added, with a laugh. “They really bring me up, especially with all the bad things going on around us.”
Many people loathe the end of daylight saving, which will take place on Sunday. Indeed, a study by the mental health brand Calm found that two in three people report difficulty adjusting to the change.
But others live for the moment the clocks jump back an hour, finding existential and spiritual meaning in staying up all night to watch it happen.
It’s a tradition they are cherishing even more considering the practice might soon be retired. Last year the Senate passed legislation making daylight saving time permanent. While the bill died in the House, similar legislation was reintroduced this year.
“I have to treasure each clock change because maybe 20 years from now, the young people will have no idea what it is,” Mr. Reifsnyder said. “We can share our experiences with them about what it was like.”
Clock watching has also become popular on TikTok, with some videos of the time change amassing millions of views.
“Did you notice this morning in the U.K. the time stopped, delayed for one hour, and then started counting again,” said Progress Oberiko, a writer and digital content manager, in a video she posted to TikTok on Oct. 29, the day the clocks are set back in the United Kingdom (every country has its own schedule and not all parts of the world change clocks). “Now, whose idea was it to control time and why?”
Daylight saving time started in the United States in 1918 and is observed by every state other than Hawaii and Arizona. Many people think that the idea is to save energy costs, but studies are mixed about whether it actually does. Another argument for keeping daylight saving is that it helps drive the economy because people stay out later, going to stores and restaurants, when it’s light out. Studies are also mixed on whether the change has health benefits.
Ms. Oberiko, 29, who now lives in London, is originally from Nigeria where the clocks never change. “We learned about daylight savings in geography in secondary school, but we didn’t get to witness the practical aspect of it,” she said. “When I moved to London I knew I had to stay up and watch.”
“It was just magical, the idea that time can go back,” she said. “It’s also like, humans can change time! We are so much in control of everything around us.”
She has now seen it a few times, and she posted the last experience on TikTok to share with her friends back home. “I will never miss a time change,” she said. “It’s so special.”
Sam Morris, 37, a publicist who lives on the Upper East Side, especially loves watching the clocks change in the fall because it adds another hour to the day.
He said he often has days where he’ll think, “‘I wish I had one more hour,’” he said. The end of daylight saving “is like when the universe gives me that extra hour that I always want.”
This Saturday evening he is going to be home, waiting for the clock to go from 1:59 a.m. back to 1 a.m. “At 1:45 it is almost like a mini New Year’s Eve countdown,” he said.
Then on Sunday morning, he is going to do something extra special. “Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” he said. “I’ll go to a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try or a museum I haven’t been to in awhile.”
“In the back of my head it’s like a gift,” he said. “And I have to make the most of it.”