The History of Spring Break

Though many people like to spend their spring break on the water, the beach isn’t for everyone. In the thick of winter, I wanted to get a jump on some interesting places to visit for spring break that included a variety of coastal and landlocked options. However, the more I looked up travel destinations, the more I started to wonder why spring break is a tradition. Some rudimentary research lead me to a couple of possible explanations:

Celebrating Spring Dates Back to Ancient Greece

With regard to Western civilization, welcoming the arrival of spring with festivals and parties can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Understood as a season for rebirth and fertility, in the spring, Ancient Greeks and Romans would celebrate the god of wine, Dionysus or Bacchus with extravagant parties rooted in hedonistic indulgence. Of course, spring break as we know it today is only tenuously related to these celebrations, but it does provide some historical perspective to the current spring celebrations.

Las Olas Beach and Casino Pool

In 1936, Sam Ingram, the swim coach from Colgate University, began taking his team down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to train in Florida’s only Olympic-sized pool. This pool was located at the Las Olas Beach and Casino. The influx of people during the springtime inspired Fort Lauderdale’s city officials to host the College Coaches’ Swim Forum two years later in 1938. This event quickly drew hundreds of people to the hotel and evolved into the celebratory spring party that we’ve come to associate with spring break.

These gatherings persisted into the 1960s, while the popularity of the spring events at the Las Olas Beach and Casino Pool was somewhat widely known, the release of major motion pictured brought widespread attention to the tradition.

Where the Boys Are

In 1960 the film Where the Boys Are was released. The film is set in the midst of the spring break culture that had sprung up in the decades since. The story centered around college students who made the pilgrimage down to Florida’s beaches in search of a good time.

MTV Spring Break

Perhaps the knowledge of this history inspired MTV to declare the site of their first spring break special in Fort Lauderdale. MTV’s often two-week long programming and broadcasting from the beach is what has brought the generation-long culture of spring breaking into the modern day. Though the city of Fort Lauderdale has since attempted to distance itself from the party persona that it has acquired over the years, many other coastal cities in the United State have happily taken up the mantle, welcoming college students and tourists alike.

Myrtle Beach: A Spring Break Outlier

Although it has 60 miles of coastline, many people see Myrtle Beach as a spring break outlier, but it provides visitors with more activities than many other beach destinations. Biking and golfing are both popular outdoor activities in addition to swimming. The Law Office of William J. Luse mentions on his site that cycling tourists may be injured due to intersection accidents, sideswiping, failure to yield, drunk driving, and distracted driving. Tourism spawns many businesses tailored to visitors. Many tourists enjoy the temperature-controlled ferris wheel that allows them to see far into the distance.