The Holiness of Spring Break

How the ancient Greeks and Jesus inspired your Spring Break

WTF Is Going On? | Daphne Schermer | March 21, 2016

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Have you heard of Anthestreria?

Probably not, I hadn’t either. According to a 2013 Atlantic article, “2,000 Years of Partying: The Brief History and Economics of Spring Break”, it was an ancient Greek festival in celebration of Dionysus. He was the god of wine, fertility, excess, and basically partying. Anthestreria was three days of dancing, singing, and drinking.

This probably sounds pretty similar to your vision of a classic Spring Break weekend.

The rise of Christianity-like your limited budgets and parents-stagnated this ancient Greek tradition of ritual madness.

Flash-forward to America in the 1930s and “the Easter-break trip”, as cited in The New York Times article, “Who Made Spring Break?”. Aside from my friend at school in England, I’d never heard of an ‘Easter-term’ or ‘Easter-break’. Evidently, this is and has been a thing. The UK website “Super Break”, touts “an excellent range of UK Easter Breaks and European Easter breaks for 2016”. This tradition and terminology is still relevant at a number of American universities, including Boston College.

How is this relevant to you, an NYU student on a secular, March break?

Well, we probably wouldn’t have this sporadic week off mid-semester were it not for our nation’s Christian roots. As chronicled in The New York Times, students used this break to go on trips. Specifically, in 1958, Michigan State English professor Glendon Swarthout, caught wind of students discussing their impending trip to Fort Lauderdale. Like any curious academic, Swarthout decided to “tag along” to observe this youth culture.

On his return from holiday, Swarthout wrote the book “Unholy Spring”-in reference to the Easter season-which was later changed to “Where the Boys Are”. Ultimately, Swarthout made bank on crashing the vacay of his students, as “Where the Boys Are” became a bestseller. This was then turned into a movie and a Connie Francis song.

Did these inspire you to go to Florida for Spring Break?

Yeah, me either. Many of us have never heard of the book, movie, or song. But these forms of entertainment inspired our collegiate forefathers and foremothers to embark on journeys of alcohol fueled explorations filled with sun, sand, and surf. So don’t forget to thank the ancient Greeks and ironically, Jesus, for your throbbing headache of memories post Spring Break.


“Easter Breaks Deals for 2016.” Super Breal. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2016. <>.

Kennedy, Pagan. “Who Made Spring Break?” The New York Times Magazine 22 Mar. 2013: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 21 Mar. 2016. <>.

Thompson, Derek. “2,000 Years of Partying: The Brief History and Economics of Spring Break.” The Atlantic 26 Mar. 2013: n. pag. The Atlantic. Web. 21 Mar. 2016. <>.