Why do we have school vacations?

We currently have a week off of school for Crocus Vacation. I’ve googled every combination of “crocus”, “Vacation”, “holiday”, “school” that I can think of but do not understand what this vacation is really supposed to be for.  It makes me reflect on the more general question what are school vacations for?  Do students benefit from a break?  I’m not convinced they do academically.  At international schools world-wide students are whisked away by their families to all sorts of interesting corners of the world during school vacations.  From the Netherlands just this week I know of students headed to Dubai, Sweden, France, Cuba, Curacao, Prague, Russia, London, Paris, Morocco, Thailand etc. Often they leave school 1-3 days before the vacation, missing out on classwork, assignments, and even assessments.  So, in a sense they trade schooling for traveling.  But traveling can be educational too.  Some teachers also use the time to travel, especially the younger ones without families. Though I thoroughly enjoy my days as a teacher and I sincerely love the students, I still find myself looking forward to the days off.  I also have been known to occasionally use vacation time to see the world.  However, the reality is that I simply relish a week of no schedule, no alarm clocks and the ability to do what I want when I want.  For example, this morning I went on a 5K run at eight in the morning.  Later I walked the same loop with a friend. It felt like such a day of luxury.  Additionally, I am grateful for extra hours to do some needed planning, research, and grading.  The break in the school routine does energize me and refresh my enthusiasm.  So, regardless the purpose of vacations, they do benefit me!