I graduated from high school in 1966. Prior to that I attended six different schools all over the country, including my final high school. We didn’t have a week of Spring Break at any of those schools. We got Good Friday off, even in public school, so that amounted to a three-day weekend, but that was it.
When did Spring Break become virtually universal and when did it become synonymous with teen/young adult abandon and debauchery, preferably involving bikinis and salt water?
My memory is that it blew up in the early 1980s. My impression is that mainly wealthier people went to spring break in the 1960s. By the 1980s, a much larger and more diverse group of people went on spring break.
When I was in University in the '80s, it was called suicide week. The legend was that “they” did some statistical analysis to find out which week had the most student suicides and then gave the students that week off.
I certainly didn’t have any in the 50s. During the years 1982-84, I sat on the local school board (as a non-voting parent rep) and in one of those years they introduced a spring break in response to parental pressure. It meant having to start the school year in the week before Labor Day in order to have the required number of teaching days, a 2 week Christmas break, and finish by June 23 (June 24 is the Quebec National holiday and has always ended the school year).
I cannot recall, but I think they have had it at McGill for as long as I have been here (since 1968). Before that I think U. Illinois did too. But I don’t recall that it was a big thing to go to Florida and carouse.
For colleges, I would guess maybe post WW II into the mid-50s as you had more students and more disposable income. For something like High Schools I would think that it began more in northern schools where you often had a bank of “snow make-up days” scheduled around the spring. But that is a guess at best.
I certainly remember the movie Where the Boys Are, and I attended my first three years of elementary school in California, but we didn’t have Spring Break. Maybe it started out in college (although I don’t remember having one in college–in Texas-- either, 1966-1970), and then eventually migrated to high school and elementary school.
Spring Break was already a thing in the mid-1970s. I know, because a lot of people from my dorm went. I wasn’t invited (sniff), and had no idea what was going on. So it was something that, I think, existed prior to that (as noted, it’s a “thing” in 1960 with Where the Boys Are, but I suspect it was more of a regional thing back then, with the idea of parties of students going together to Florida or some other attainable resort over the spring holiday slowly spreading further north as travel became cheaper and quicker.
Graduated high school in 1973. We always had a week off for “Easter Vacation.” Now, 40 some odd years later, the school I teach at has a 2-week “Spring Break” that usually coincides with Easter, but not always.
well historically I was always told that spting/easter break was given for the kids to be able to help with the spring planting … just like summer was given to help with the farming
I know in the south at one time the kids had a week or two off of either half days or days off to help with the cotton harvest cause some of the relatives thought theeyed go down and see if they could make some extra money…they did but said never again because cotton picking was worse than corn shucking …
When I was in elementary school (Southern California, 1970s), we had a full week of Easter vacation. It was always tied to the week before Easter, even though it was a public school. The local Catholic school always got the week after Easter off, as they had to be at school for Holy Week.
Now my kids (public school) get Spring Break, which is always the first full week of April, regardless of Easter’s timing.
I was at UCLA in the mid-1980s, and Spring Break (the week between Winter and Spring quarters) was a thing for road trips then. Every year the TV news had breathless coverage of all the debauchery in Palm Springs, which only made it more attractive. After the Palm Springs locals shut it down, Tijuana and San Felipe in Baja became the go-to spots for California college students. Still within driving distance.