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History Lesson: Why The Rose Bowl Isn’t Played On Sunday

When it was announced Penn State earned a Rose Bowl berth, many fans rejoiced.

But despite its status as a New Year’s Six bowl game and its traditional kickoff on New Year’s Day, this year’s Rose Bowl will be played on Monday, January 2 — leading a different sect of fans to voice their displeasure.

There’s a historical reason for the change this year.

While the first Rose Bowl game was played in 1902, the first Rose Parade took place in 1890. Originally, the parade was created by the Valley Hunt Club to showcase (brag to New York about) Pasadena’s comfortable weather and flourishing landscape during the winter.

Annually held on New Year’s Day, the parade ran into trouble in 1893 when the holiday fell on a Sunday.

Sunday meant Pasadena’s churches were going to be surrounded by horses, which were the era’s primary method of transportation. Attempting to avoid disturbing the horses and causing general mayhem, the parade was moved to January 2.

The ‘Never On Sunday’ rule has persisted to this day, moving the parade off of Sunday — despite the noted lack of horses in modern society. Historically, the yearly football game played second fiddle to the parade.

Californians enjoyed taunting the East Coast so much that the parade grew too big to be financed on its own, so the exploding festival sought new sources of income. In 1902, the Valley Hunt Club introduced a football game to supplement income, but Michigan defeated its opponent at such a lopsided margin, 49-0, that football was replaced by chariot races instead for 13 years afterward.

In 1916, the Rose Bowl football game made its triumphant return and has been played yearly since. Staying true to the initial hierarchy, the Rose Bowl follows the Rose Parade’s scheduling rule — perhaps because the memories of chariot races remain all too familiar to the Tournament of Roses.

No. 11 Penn State will kick off its postseason matchup against No. 8 Utah at 5 p.m. inside Rose Bowl Stadium…on a Monday, of course.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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