Spring break is an eagerly awaited time for students, parents, and teachers alike. It's a time when the school year takes a brief respite, allowing everyone to take a much-needed break from their studies.
But when is spring break for most people and why did it become such a popular tradition? When are spring breaks in different parts of the world? And finally, what are some spring break ideas for travelers and their families?
In this article, we'll explore the history of spring break, when it usually occurs for most schools and colleges, and what you can do to make the most of it.
Where Does Spring Break Come From?
Western countries have observed spring break, or a mid-semester school holiday, for centuries. Portugal and Spain, for instance, have been honoring Holy Week since the 1600s by dedicating time off in the spring each year. They call it Semana Santa, a week of reflection, prayer, and celebration. While not quite the rowdy spring break Americans are famous for, the tradition has a long history in these countries and is often tacked on to the Easter holiday.
Eastern nations, for their part, also have their versions of spring break. In Japan, for example, the annual Golden Week is a seven-day period of time off that combines four holidays into one long break. In South Korea, schools are off for a week in May around Children's Day. And in Taiwan, spring break revolves around Tomb Sweeping Day (which is exactly what it sounds like!)
Other interchangeable terms for the holiday period include Easter vacation, Easter Monday, Easter week, spring vacation, mid-term break, March break, and April break. The terminology varies depending on the region and its cultural or religious tendencies.
When Is Spring Break in the U.S. and How Did it Start?
It has been widely documented that the American spring break tradition began in 1936, with sources like Wikipedia and TIME magazine pointing to one event in particular. That year, a swimming coach at Colgate University, Sam Ingram, had an idea to take his swimmers away from the confines of snowy Hamilton, New York, and head south to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He wanted his students to train in Florida's first Olympic-size swimming pool. Two years later, in 1938, the city of Fort Lauderdale welcomed over 300 college swimmers to compete at the College Coaches' Swim Forum. The event was widely publicized, and the notion of a spring break holiday was born.
When Are Spring Breaks in Different States and Municipalities?
This is somewhat of a trick question. While Easter Monday is a public holiday in many countries, it isn't a national holiday in the United States. Therefore, most schools and colleges determine their own spring break schedules independently, with private schools that follow the Catholic tradition often going on break around Easter.
Generally speaking, however, spring break usually peaks between mid-March and mid-April in the U.S., though this timeline can vary considerably based on location. For instance, in California, spring break is often held from the middle of March to early April. In Texas, schools may take a break in late March or early April. And in Florida, spring break is usually between late February and early April.
When Is Spring Break Over?
Most spring breaks last one to two weeks, though longer or shorter breaks are also possible. In general, school resumes the day (or a few days) after Easter Monday, which is typically in early-to-mid April (after the month's first full moon). For this reason, it's safe to say that spring break typically wraps up by mid-to-late April. If you're trying to plan a vacation or make travel arrangements, it's best to check your school district's calendar to get a definite timeline.
What Are Some Spring Break Ideas for Individual Travelers or Families?
From beach getaways to camping trips, there's no shortage of ideas for spring break. Some popular options include visiting theme parks like Disneyland or Universal Studios, going skiing in the Rockies, exploring a big city like New York or Chicago, or experiencing culture abroad (e.g., sightseeing in Rome).
Here are some tried-and-true spring break activities to make the most of your time off:
- An all-inclusive resort on the beach
- A 7-day cruise across warm waters
- A road trip through the southwest
- An outdoor adventure in the great outdoors (think: hiking, biking, and camping)
- An amusement-park getaway with on-site accommodations
- A quiet escape to the nearest lake or river destination
- A unique-stay experience with Airbnb (think: treehouse or yurt in the desert)
- A city-exploration experience with day trips to nearby attractions
No matter what type of spring break vacation you choose, there are numerous ways to make it unforgettable. For an even better experience, invest in travel gear that helps you make the most of your time. This may include a one-and-done toiletry bag, a packable blanket, and some nifty travel accessories to enhance your trip.
Many of us are eager to know when is spring break! While the answer to this question depends on where you live, it's generally safe to count on mid-March to mid-April as peak season.
Whether you're a college student, work full time, or are a busy parent with kids in school, spring break is the perfect opportunity to take some much-needed time off. Make sure you contact the powers that be to figure out when you or your family have the chance to enjoy a much-deserved vacation. And don't forget to plan some fun activities to make the most of your getaway!
Happy spring break!