Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Chrysanthemum and Alabama Football

UA's 1946 Homecoming Queen Jeanene
Vines and her escort John Hunter.
The chrysanthemum was introduced from Japan to the United States in the 1890s, just as gridiron football was gaining popularity as a sport among the college-eduted elite. The six-week autumnal blooming phase of the early varieties coincided with the brief football season of the era and became a sensation among affluent football fans who could afford them.

In fact, beginning in 1894 the University of Alabama yearbook denoted the white chrysanthemum as the school flower. Football had arrived at the school just two years prior and the association between the two were inevitable. The popularity of the flower was such that it was just as common for men to wear them as women.
A UA homecoming float in the mid 60s.

The rage for the flower among football fans faded by the turn of the century, and by that time they had become primarily a decoration for women's corsages. Still, by that time the chrysanthemum had become indelibly associated with football. When homecoming games were introduced at Alabama in 1920, the flower was an obvious connection with the earlier era of football and have continued to do so ever since.