Why Kids Have Summers off (and No, It’s Not to Work on the Farm)

When I was a kid, summer vacation began in mid-June and ended on the Wednesday after Labor Day, so I looked at the months of the year as days of the week. July was the first full month of summer vacation, so I saw at it as “the Saturday of months”. August was Sunday, September was Monday, June was Friday, May was Thursday, and I guess that everything from October through April was Tuesday/Wednesday. Does that make any sense? Anyway, the entire year revolved around summer vacation. Both of my parents worked full-time, so they would sign me up in community programs that allowed me to play baseball, basketball, go swimming, take trips to the miniature golf course and roller rink, and once a year we’d make the hour-long drive to a water park. Holy hell, that was awesome stuff. It was structured, supervised activity that was a blast and on top of that, we’d do one or two family trips that involved camping or visiting the relatives back in Michigan. The point I’m getting at is that summers were the best and the story that I was always told is that summer vacation became a thing long ago so that kids could help out on the farm during the warm months on the longest days of the year, but according to Mental Floss, this isn’t true.

Before the Civil War, kids in the country went to school in the winter and summer with the spring and fall off to plant and harvest crops while kids in the cities went to school year-round, so there is something to the story of kids getting time off to work on the farm, it just wasn’t in the summer. Summer vacations began when kids and their parents would escape the heat of the cities to chill out in the cooler rural areas of the country. With a growing labor movement and people not having to work ridiculous amounts of hours with no time off, more and more folks liked the idea of taking time off with the family. Business interests soon saw an opportunity there and eventually turned the idea of summer vacations into a giant industry. See, America? Paid time off is a good thing…

Read the entire piece here.

More from Jason Thomas

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