Thanks, Ancient Greeks
The ritual that is Spring Break is neither mandated by Federal Law nor a constitutional right, but it is of more than passing importance to most college students. Some trace the custom back to the spring rites of ancient Greeks and Romans. In the season of rebirth and fertility, veneration was paid to Dionysus and Bacchus, the respective Greek and Roman names for the god of wine. While worship of Bacchus does not quite describe the contemporary Spring Break, there is certainly a great deal of honor paid to wine and its cousins in the family of adult beverages. The habit of traveling to a beach or other resort may have begun as early as the late 1800's, when students would go to the beach or to mineral spas to recover from the rigors of academia. But it was a hurricane that swept through and destroyed much of Miami and surrounding cities in 1926 that may be blamed for what Spring Break has become.
In an effort to attract visitors back to their once pristine city, Ft. Lauderdale built in 1928 one of the nation's first indoor Olympic-sized swimming pools. As competitive swimming was just beginning to be popular, the pool was a draw for coaches from northern states who wanted to get their athletes in the water as soon as possible. Within a decade, an annual swim competition was held at the pool, attracting teams from across the country. With those teams came other students, and even after the competition was long discontinued, they kept coming. A 1958 novel by Glendon Swathout titled Where the Boys Are led to huge jump in visitors; at its peak, Ft. Lauderdale hosted over 350,000 college students each spring.
Many sites now host spring breakers, but many of the rituals remain the same. Bacchus still gets his due, the virtues of sunscreen are ignored, regrets pile up in equal measure to the fun. Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. Bacchus has enough devotees, but Christ still calls to be served in the guise of all kinds of people - the hungry and homeless, the lonely and the grieving, the oppressed, the imprisoned, the forgotten. I'm all for having a great Spring Break, but I encourage you to think that a great Spring Break is truly great when it includes finding a way to serve. If it's a day with Habitat for Humanity in your home town, that can make a great Spring Break. If it's helping serve supper some night at Southside here in town, that can make for a great Spring Break (by the way, get there around 5:00 and they will put you to work just about any night). Whatever the way, find the way. It's a step on the way that is the Way, the way of Jesus. Best of all - no hangovers, no sunburn, no regrets. Just joy. GIve it a try. And above all else, wear sunscreen.