Seasonal Temporal Chaos: Daylight Savings Time in the Amazon

Brazilians living in the Amazon, like Arizonans in the United States, don't normally adjusted their clocks for daylight savings time. When you are living along the equator you have roughly equal amounts of daylight & nighttime, saving an hour doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

While I was in Manaus in 1993, however, the government of the state of Amazonas decided to implement daylight savings time (horário de verão), ostensibly because banks located in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and government agencies in Brasilia were on daylight savings time.

Talk about mass confusion. Easily more than half the population ignored the decree. When scheduling an appointment you would have to clarify whether the other party was using "old time" or "new time." Banks and government agencies and a few small businesses all used "new time" but most everyone else used "old time." Who knows what time busses used (since they came de vez em quando whenever they wanted), but the result was temporal chaos. (It was fairly disruptive to Church meetings on Sunday when half the congregation would show up an hour into the services.)

While I suspect most people were generally apathetic either way, a few people held very strong feelings about the propriety of using "new time" vs "old time." My personal favorite explanation as to why daylight savings time was evil came from a drunk who explained why he wasn't participating in the horário de verão, and certainly never would:

"If I go forward by an hour each day, within a couple weeks [three and a half?] I won't have any time left at all."

Needless to say I believe 1993 was the only year the Amazon experimented with daylight savings time. In 2006 only ten Brazilian states are springing forward & falling back & Amazonas isn't one of them.

As for me, I'm happy to report that two weeks after the DST change in the USA my body has finally adjusted to losing an hour.

—Michael A. Cleverly


  1. Leo de Menezes wrote (at Tue, 12 Jun 2007, 14:07):

Hi Michael,

I just want to clarify that when the "horário de verão was first implemented in the 80's the Amazonas State adopted it for a few years untill the local government concluded that it wasn't help much the State to save energy. By the way, did you serve in Cidade Nova? I came back from my mission in March 1993. My ward was the Ala Canarana.

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