On Sunday we will change time, along with the whole of Europe. Since the mоԁіfісаtіоn “experimental on a permanent basis” of the management of legal time in Morocco in 2018, our country is undoubtedly one of those with the shortest period of “daylight saving time” (what is called “summer time” elsewhere), since it is limited to the month of Ramadan.
The time change in Morocco has a long history, with a difficult implementation. It has gradually become part of everyday life, as people stop making appointments at the “real” time. When you ask a Moroccan how long ago the time change was, he will say “about ten years ago”, and will often add that he would like to have his “GMT” back.
World Summer Time
But do you know when the first time change took place, well before 2008?
“True” time or legal time?
Time measurement is different from time, which is an arbitrary marker, just like the temperature scale, where 0° Farenheit corresponds to -18° Celsius. “Noon” theoretically corresponds to the moment when the sun is highest in the sky, but apart from religious moments (prayers, services, etc.) the times in the countryside are dependent on the length of the day. In Europe in the 19th century, peasants hardly worked under artificial light, so the organisation of their day did not depend on the times marked by watches, but on the rising and setting of the sun. It is in the cities, for industry, for train travel that the arbitrary measurement of time becomes important. A train does not depart “at sunrise”, but at 7.30 am, for example. Telegraphic and radio communications also need a clear and centralized time reference, easily convertible.
The same is true in pre-Protectorate Morocco, with one essential – and recent – difference from Europe: the movement of the sun in the sky sets the pace of everyone’s day, determining the times of the рrіèrе and the beginning and end of the fast during Ramadan. At that time, the “time” of Anfa (which was not yet Casablanca) and that of Rabat were therefore different.
The choice of a reference time is also a political choice. How was the time that was subsequently imposed on Morocco chosen?
Legal time and the Greenwich meridian
It is finally rather late that the notion of legal time is used in Europe. Legal time, therefore arbitrary, “average” for a country and allowing several countries to have a common reference. England was the first to ‘strike’ in 1880, defining its legal time in relation to the Greenwich meridian, which four years later became the basis for defining the twenty-four time zones: GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time) +1 or -2.
The other countries followed suit more or less quickly. Germany and France were in the same situation as Morocco, with many “local” times. In April 1893, Germany adopted a legal time based on the Berlin observatory, which was much further east than Greenwich. This became known as CET (Central European Time).
France, which was still wary of the “perfidious Albion”, had chosen a different reference, the Paris meridian, two years earlier. Time was unified on this basis in March 1891 for France and Algeria. In 1911, France decided to switch to a reference to the Greenwich meridian, without saying so: the law changing legal time mentioned “the mean time of Paris delayed by 9 minutes and 21 seconds”.
The invention of daylight saving time, a funny mishmash
The idea of a change of hоrаіrе originated in 1784, in the brain of Benjamin Franklin, without any success. In Europe, the Germans were the forerunners. To save money in wartime, they introduced the “Sommerzeit” between 30 April and 1 October 1916. The British followed suit immediately with a “British Summer Time” that advanced by two hours compared to GMT on 21 May 1916. The result: although they were in different time zones, the English and Germans had synchronised summer time.
For the same reasons, France also introduced summer time, which was only one hour ahead of GMT. It was tested for the first time in 1916, from 14 June to 1 October, then voted on 19 March 1917, and came into force on 24 March (very short deadlines, “Moroccan way of doing”). But the northern part of the country, occupied by the Germans, was on “CET” time until 1918. The summer time system was retained, enshrined in law in 1923.
During the Second World War, French time was aligned with German time and thus advanced by two hours in relation to GMT, at least in the occupied zone. In 1945, the Provisional Government returned to a summer time based on the Greenwich meridian, i.e. GMT+1. It also “cancelled” the changeover to winter time: France thus remained definitively (and not experimentally) on GMT+1, its former summer time having become legal time.
This is why there is now (and even before the Brexit) a one-hour difference еntrе France and England, whereas the difference between Greenwich and Paris was only 9 minutes…
When the 1973 oil сrіѕе arrives and France remembers daylight saving time, it will therefore be GMT+2 (the old ‘German time’). By the 1980s, all of Europe had adopted the system, and the time change dates were harmonised in 1998.
What about Spain? Even before the introduction of GMT, Spain соnnаіѕѕаіt changing time, or at least changing times: the Cortes de Cádiz (Parliament) regulations stated in 1810 that sessions should be opened at 10 am from 1 October to 30 April, and at 9 am the rest of the year. It defined its legal time as the solar time of the Madrid meridian (about 12 minutes difference with GMT) in 1901, but each province retained the freedom to determine the dates of the time change. The system was not unified until 1918. It was not systematically applied (not between 1920-1925 nor between 1930 and 1936). On the other hand, in 1940, Franco decided to follow German time. And at the end of the war, with Franco still in power in Spain, the country did not return to GMT; on the contrary, the change was even made official in 1973, the year of the oil crisis. Finally, in 1981, Spain returned to the time change.
Morocco changes time
Why am I telling you all this? Because, from 1913 onwards, Morocco will participate, willingly or not, in all these changes. The hіѕtоіrе of time changes in Morocco shows that they are very close to those of the colonial powers. This also means that Morocco lives all this period under two different times, those of Spain and France.
1913, Morocco switches to GMT
Lyautey was both a military, and therefore a logistician, and an organiser. He knew the importance of a single time – he had no doubt learnt at Saint-Cyr about the difficulties of coordinating the Allied forces in the 1870 war, when each had its own time, and each town too.
Even before he was appointed Resident General, when he was only an officer stationed in Casablanca, he had the Great Clock built on the Place de France, to give all the inhabitants and visitors a vision of the “true time”, including, say the texts of the time, the “іnԁіgènеѕ” and the nomads. In my opinion, the latter did not care at all…
One of the first measures of the great “package” of 1913 was therefore the dahir of October 26th, 1913 which defined a single legal time in Morocco “under French authority”, which would be GMT (at the time, the French had already abandoned the Paris meridian).
1918: the first Moroccan summer time … for Ramadan
For a brief рérіоԁе (two months, from mid-May to mid-July) Morocco experiments with “summer time”. The text of the dahir is very imprecise:
The legal time fixed for the territory of the Protectorate of France in Morocco […] shall be advanced by 60 minutes from 16 May 1918 […] and until otherwise ordered.
The time change is obviously made for Ramadan, since it runs from Shaban 5th 1336 until the end of Ramadan (five days after the 30th of Ramadan 1336) in time for the celebrations of French National Day on July 14th.
1939: we enter the war
For the first time since 1918, legal time was brought forward by one hour “until otherwise ordered” in September 1939, without any lіеn with summer. It ends three months later, a little after the end of Ramadan.
16 February 1940: Morocco does not switch to German time
Unlike the rest of occupied Europe, Morocco moves its time forward by only 60 minutes, without switching to German time. A two-hour difference from GMT would have been too much.
1945: stop and go
For once, it was done in advance, and so in September 1945 the re-establishment of legal time was set for 17 November of the same year.
Bad luck! On the same day, November 17, this ԁаhіr was cancelled (and Morocco kept its “war” time). I must admit that this is my favourite…
It’s only a postponement, the “legal” time of 1913 is restored in September 1946
1950: summer time to reduce electricity consumption following the drought
For the first (and only) time, the time change was justified.
Considering that the low level of spring rains has led to a particularly difficult situation from the point of view of the production of electrical energy from hydraulic sources, a situation which justifies a severe reduction in electricity consumption; that the change of legal time by advancing sixty minutes on solar time is likely to reduce this consumption…
This will last until October.
For the same reasons, will we have a prolonged return to summer time after Ramadan?
Finally, on 2 June 1967, the dahir of 1913 was abolished
But this did not mean the end of time changes, since it was replaced by a royal decree (French explanation about the differences) which allowed for the possibility of shifting legal time by 60 minutes (summer time), still by decree, and which defined legal time as GMT. And fixes the start of daylight saving time on 3 June, for the whole summer.
From 1974 to 1989
Almost every year, Morocco introduced summer hеurе. The oil crisis had taken place and Morocco was doing what everyone else was doing, trying to save energy. The policy of large dams put in place by Hassan II began to bear fruit, but energy remained expensive.
Twenty years later, we start again… for ten years.
The return to summer time in 2008 was difficult and chaotic. We experienced it with panicked tourists, not knowing, finally, at what time their plane would take off.
The 2018 decree has an originality that does not pass muster: for the first time in Morocco’s long history, it defines a permanent legal time that is not that of GMT, and that obliges us to do the gymnastics that we are going to do for this month of Ramadan.