(A Highly Unofficial Version)
Many people may consider Spring Break to be a trivial occurance, just a big party by students who have nothing better to do with their time and money. But this is NOT SO! Spring Break actually is an established cultural tradition among college students, an annual eventDaytona Beach with its own sets of rituals, a piece of 20th century Americana. Some argue that Spring Break goes back farther and deeper than that--that it is the modern manefestation of an age-old rite in which young people celebrate the return of the Spring. Thus, those who partake in Spring Break '97 are actually adding their touch to the annals of the Spring Break tradition. The following is a brief recap of the history of Spring Break to provide current-day participants with an understanding of the footsteps in which they follow.

Spring Break: The Classical Period

Some people trace the roots of modern-day Spring Break back to the ancient rituals of the Greeks and Romans preceeding the birth of Christ. Back then, men and women, particularly those who were of "mate-able" age, welcomed the return of spring, the season of fertility, in rituals celebrating Dionysus (Greek)/ Bacchus (Roman), the god of wine. Such rituals featured drinking and dancing until participants were in an altered consciousness, open to the irrational calls of this god of earthly pleasures. The advent of Christianity put a stop to such pagent rituals, since the new, singular God was seen as an advocate of spiritual rather than worldly discoveries. Nonetheless, many believe that the essence of Dionysus/Bacchus lives on, and that Spring Break is one of the current incarnations of
that drive in human beings.

Spring Break in America: The Early Years

Some of the elements of the Spring Break Early Spring Breaktradition also go way back in the customs of American college students. Traveling to the coast or to the site of a mineral spring as a restorative cure for the rigors of academic life was common among the well-to-do set of American college students since the 19th century (if not earlier). In the early 20th century, the combination of the establishment of female collegiate alternatives to traditionally male-only universities and the invention of the car created "The Road The Early YearsTrip" as a mechanism among college students for the co-mingling of the sexes. Finally, while the custom ebbed and flowed with the times, by the 20th century college was firmly enschonced next to military service as a primary opportunity for the iniation into inebriation among the 18-22 year-old generation. Thus, the major components of today's Spring Break actually have their antecedents in long-standing collegiate behaviors. However, it took a further technological development to meld them into the cultural icon that Spring Break now represents. Therefore, Spring Break, as we know it today, did not begin until the 1960's, thanks to the invention of what life-altering technology????

Spring Break in America: The 1960's

Actually, it was the movies that launched the massive annual event now known as Spring Break. The 1960 classic "Where the Boys Are" spread the myth throughout the nation of the epic journey of college-age men and women to the idyllic shores of Florida--Ft. Lauderdale, to be

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precise--to find fun, sun, and true love. With the balladic crooning of Connie Francis ringing in their ears, college students began finding their way to Florida in droves, seeking to escape the challenges of their studies in a place where romance and good times were always close at hand.

Spring Break in America: The 1970's

While it may have gotten started with the wholesome appeal of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Spring Break, like all American institutions, underwent substantial revision in the turbulent times of the late '60's and the '70's. Alcohol and other intoxicants played a larger role in the festivities, fraternization between the sexes took on some new dimensions in the period of "free love," and the partying became raucous enough to trash some establishments and to reduce the appeal of attracting college students to some beach communities. During this time, Ft. Lauderdale was replaced by Daytona Beach, with its cheaper rates, closer proximity to colder East Coast climates, and looser regulations, as the chief mecca for Spring Break party animals.

Spring Break in America: The 1980's

Spring Break in the '80's took on some additional characteristics as Generation X began to add its touch to the tradition. Spring Break started to take on some added sophistication, as the prospect of staying drunk for an entire week was less enticing for some of this generation of college students than it had been for the Baby Boomers. While alcohol still played a central role in Spring Break rituals, planned activities expanded to include more sports, trips to theme parks and other tourist spots, snorkeling and scuba diving, even a job fair. The marketing thrust also switched, moving from primarily pushing beer and cigarettes to advertising computer-related items, video games, cars, movies and television shows, and other youth-oriented consumer products.

Spring Break in America: The 1990's

The keyword for the '90's is diversification. This decade has seen an upsurge in alternatives to the
traditional Ft. Lauderdale Sunning
and Daytona Beach as the prime location for Spring Break frivolities. In Florida, Panama City Beach on Florida's West Coast eclipsed Daytona as the most popular spot for Spring Breakers. Other spots attracting high attendance include South Padre Island in Texas and Palm Springs in California. Even international destinations, such as Cancun, Acapulco, and the Bahamas, are attracting larger numbers of American college students during this precious week away from the campus.

Spring Break in America: 1995

1995 was a watershed year for Spring Break, because that was the year that WWW.SPRINGBREAK.COM was launched! Suddenly, using the capacity of the Internet, the spirit of Spring Break was shared across the country throughout the year. No longer was Spring Break confined to a few weeks in a distance locale; instead, college students could use WWW.SPRINGBREAK.COM as a means to communicate with fellow partiers and free spirits. Roving cameras recorded contingents of students, whose images live on in the Spring Break '95 Yearbook. Other students sent in their own picture, adding their own testimonies to the annals of Spring Break.

WWW.SPRINGBREAK.COM became the way to record, review, remember, re-connect, and relive (even if vicariously) the fun, friends, and all-around magic that Spring Break represents.

CC Writer

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