Thanksgiving in the United States traces its origin to
1621 when the Pilgrims at Plymouth celebrated a successful fall harvest. For
more than 200 years the colonies and states held days of thanks on irregular
dates. Congress and George Washington tried to establish November 26 as a
national Thanksgiving Day in 1789 but it was not until 1863 that President
Lincoln officially proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day
in the U.S.
Then in 1939, a year that had five Thursdays in the month
of November, President Roosevelt moved the holiday up in the month in an effort
to lengthen the Christmas shopping period and boost the economy. Some states,
including North Carolina, ignored this and continued to hold it on the last
Thursday of the month. In 1941 Congress
resolved the issue and declared the fourth Thursday of November as the official
and legal Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.
Accounts of the first Thanksgiving say that the three day
celebration included recreational activities. Today, football has become part
of the Thanksgiving tradition for many. From flag football with family and
friends to watching a televised game even those who aren’t fans often get a
serving of football on Thanksgiving Day.
Beginning in 1935 Brevard College played Mars Hill on
Thanksgiving Day. The two teams met on
Thanksgiving Day at least nine times until Brevard College dropped football
from its athletics department in 1950.
Brevard won four of those nine games and two ended in a 0-0 tie.
In 1943 and 1944 Brevard College played Brevard High
School on Thanksgiving Day. Brevard College won both of those games. An informal survey of old Transylvania Times
revealed that Brevard High often held a game on Thanksgiving Day evening.
Midget and Mite football teams also got in on the Thanksgiving Day tradition for a time. The Brevard Mites played the Hendersonville Mighty Mites in the Fourth Annual Apple Bowl in Hendersonville in 1962.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.