Noon is 12:00 PM, the exact midpoint of the day as determined by the local time. This begs the question, “how is local time determined?” Good question! There are three components:
- World time, also called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Zulu Time (Z), or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). I talked about this during my first A to Z Challenge, and Sisyphus47 has a great discussion about it over at Of Glass and Paper, his blog. The atomic clocks in the world are synchronized so that it’s 1200 UTC (12 noon world time) at solar noon along the Prime Meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England, just outside London. Your computer synchronizes with an atomic clock automatically, provided you’re connected to the Internet and you’ve told the operating system you want to.
- Your time zone. There are 25 time zones in the world, roughly 15° longitude apart, except for the two around the International Date Line (they’re 7.5° apart). That’s just a guideline, though; the boundaries of the time zones are shifted to suit borders (state, county, provincial, etc.) within a country, so there are more than 25 time zones. In fact, there are close to 100 time zones worldwide.
- Daylight Saving Time (DST), or summer time. This is allegedly a way to make better use of the available daylight. In truth, it’s two times a year when everyone’s circadian rhythms are disrupted. In the US, we set our clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March and set them back one hour on the first Sunday in November.
So, today, where I live, when it’s noon Eastern Daylight Time, it’s 4 PM (1600) world time. My time zone is Eastern US, five hours behind world time (UTC minus 5 hours), and we are on Daylight Saving Time, meaning we have jumped ahead one hour, so that we’re only four hours behind it. Got all that? Good!
Noon, in most of the places I’ve been, is lunchtime. Work stops and you have anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more to eat lunch, go shopping, have a date, etc. They’re more apt to call it “dinnertime” in rural areas, because that’s when they eat the main meal of the day.
When we were kids, most of us went home for lunch. Most kids had moms that didn’t work outside the home, so they would make lunch for the kids. Both my parents worked, so they had a woman come in to clean the house and make our lunch. When we got old enough, we would come home and make our own lunch. We were forbidden from lighting the stove, so we’d have a roast of some kind on Sunday and Mom would cut it up so we could make sandwiches during the week without wielding sharp kitchen knives. Some days we’d make peanut butter sandwiches (with or without jelly), sometimes we’d have breakfast cereal, sometimes we would polish off a full package of cookies and a gallon of milk. We had an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch, which gave us enough time to have lunch and maybe do some homework we “forgot” to do the night before. And we’d watch “Bozo’s Circus,” which every kid in Chicago did at noon time.
Nowadays, kids stay at school all day and eat lunch there. They usually only get 45 minutes for lunch, maybe less. And there’s no Bozo. Kids today are deprived.