The history of spring break


BUCKHANNON — This week marks the beginning of spring break for Upshur County Schools, but did you know that spring break has roots that began back in ancient Greece?

“Apparently, it could get stressful inventing democracy and Western philosophy all day, so the Greeks liked to blow off some steam each spring with a three-day ‘awakening’ dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility,” as stated by howstuffworks.com.

Flash forward to the 1930s, modern spring break emerges. It is noted that college students typically spent their spring break at home, with most breaks occurring over the Easter holiday. Further research determined that modern spring break erupted, following an idea developed by Colgate College Swim Coach Sam Ingram in 1934. Ingram wanted to keep his swim team in shape over the break and chose the town of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in which his pupils would travel to and continue their practice. Soon after, other swimmers and coaches followed suit and Fort Lauderdale, Florida became known as the first official home for spring breakers.

According to USA Today, “By the 1950s, spring break had spread beyond the pool. College students everywhere were heading south to spend their breaks on the beach. TIME published its first spring break story, ‘Beer and the Beach,’ in 1959. In 1958, Glen Swarthout, a Michigan State University professor, heard that his students were planning a trip to Florida. Curious, he decided to visit Fort Lauderdale and observe this ‘new’ spring break for himself. Swarthout’s travels inspired him to write Where the Boys Are, a hit book, which MGM later transformed into a major film in 1960. Following the release of the movie, tens of thousands of students visited Fort Lauderdale for spring break,” said usatoday.com.

Then Music television, or MTV, came on the scene and highlighted spring breakers in 1986. Following MTV’s coverage on spring break partying, the American Medical Association (AMA) started to address accompanying issues of drugs, drinking and sexual activity.

“The AMA provided students with “break bags,” filled with items like sunscreen and sexual assault pamphlets,” stated USA Today.

Encyclopedia.com revealed that, each year approximately 1.5 million U.S. and Canadian students participate in a spring break vacations. In 2001, over 100,000 youths traveled to Cancun over their break and, according to visitor’s bureau surveys, spring break lures about 115,000 people to South Padre (in spite of a moratorium on advertising itself as a spring break destination) and 175,000 to Daytona Beach annually.

Although spring break has a history of being “wild,” there are now alternative spring break (ASB) activities. “An ASB is when college students choose to participate in volunteer projects during the traditional week-long spring break vacation. It can be a domestic, national or international volunteer experience in a number of fields. Additionally, an alternative spring break can be through your university, a non-profit, or through volunteer organizations,” stated gooverseas.com. ASB opportunities can be sought out by contacting organizations, such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and Teach for America. These organizations are known for helping with issues such as hunger, housing, poverty, education and illness.

Of course, spring break also involves the younger youth as well. Activities listed by thespruce.com include blowing bubbles, enjoying nature activities, reading outside, taking a day trip, planting spring flowers, hosting a family movie night, visiting museums and theatres, signing up for a spring break camp, plan your summer vacation, visiting a park or library, going on a picnic, camping in your backyard and more.

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