The History of Spring Break

By Katie Ralbusky, Online Editor

Spring Break, most associate it with pool parties, drinking binges, topless women, and partying at a beach resort. But how did the modern spring break come about? What made this time so appealing to young adults? Perhaps the answer can be found as far back as ancient Greece.

The original partiers were the ancient Greeks and Romans. The article A BRIEF HISTORY OF Spring Break states that, “The arrival of spring, the season of fertility and awakening, was historically celebrated in tandem with the veneration of Dionysus or Bacchus — the Greek and Roman gods of wine.” This time was often referred to as “Anthestreria” and was held for three days. The festivities included men competing to see who could drink the most wine, women covering themselves in flowers, singers performing, and not to mention dancing. Sound familiar?

In more recent times, 1936 to be exact, a Colgate University swimming coach decided it was a good idea to bring his team down to Fort Lauderdale. It was clever at the time seeing as it sported the first Olympic-size swimming pool in Florida. Sensing a unique opportunity the city hosted the first College Coaches’ Swim Forum two years later. Over 300 swimmers attended the event.

This event picked up momentum and more students shuttled down to Florida during their spring breaks. Who Made Spring Break? mentions that, “In 1958, Glendon Swarthout, an English professor at Michigan State University, overheard his students buzzing about their Easter-break trip to Fort Lauderdale. In that more-ecumenical era, students typically shuttled home to attend church services with their parents, but now word was spreading of another kind of spring break.” He decided to tag along with his students and managed to pick up the lingo and what occurred during this time. He created a book called “Where the Boys Are” that was adapted into a movie, coining the term “spring vacation.”

2,000 Years of Partying: The Brief History and Economics of Spring Break states that, “Fast-forward six decades and, by the early 2000s, nearly 40 percent of college students travel in masse for spring break, spending “nearly $1 billion” in Florida and Texas alone, according to Laurie. In addition to the peculiar joy of reading a paper with these sort of topic sentences — “Spring Break has a temporal as well as descriptive definition” — it makes a substantive point about the economic benefits of spring break to the cities receiving hoards of boozing college students.”

In all humanity hasn’t come that far in how springtime is celebrated. Back in ancient time people celebrated the renewal of the year after surviving a rough and long winter. They would party, dance, and get drunk. There are even wine vases out there that still depict the celebrations. Today spring break is mainly celebrated by college students who need a desperate break from exams and schoolwork. Many are looking to hook up or get drunk while others merely want a good time. Just remember however you may celebrate spring break that it has a history beyond drunken college kids, and if it weren’t for our ancestors we may not even have a spring break to this day.