Telling Time

The continental United States covers four different time zones, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. Thus at any given moment it is three hours earlier in California than it is in Virginia.

The one big difference between time in the U.S. and in most other parts of the world is that we practice “Daylight Savings Time.” That is, between the 1st Sunday in April and that last Sunday in October, our clocks are changed so that we are awake during more daylight hours. Therefore, on the 1 st Sunday in April, you will need to change your clock (officially at 2:00am, but most people change their clocks the night before), so that you actually “lose” one hour. 2 a.m. changes to 3 a.m.

And on the last Sunday in October you will change you clocks again this time moving the time back one our. 2 a.m. changes to 1 a.m. April is spring time in the U.S., and October is Fall, so many people remember how to move their clocks by saying in April we “Spring forward” and in October we “Fall back.” You will be reminded of these changes in the local newspaper and by word of mouth, but it is not uncommon to find people going to church late on the first Sunday of April and arriving early on the last Sunday in October.

A few more things to remember about time in the U.S. “Business hours,” the time most people are in their offices and available for telephone calls and office work are usually 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., although some start as early as 8 a.m. Most official offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

In addition, many stores practice “Sunday hours” by having their open hours shortened, often from around noon until 5-6 p.m.. Finally, you may need to clarify what someone means if you are invited for an evening visit, or for “dinner.” Depending upon where a person lives in the U.S. dinner may be either the noon meal or the evening meal, and evening may start around 3 or 4 p.m., or not until 6 or 7 p.m.. It is always best to confirm a time for a visit or making other arrangements so everyone is clear about expectations.