The 1908 Massachusetts reverse hockey sweater is the second most popular design in our State Sweaters lineup, but the simple design begs the question of why? What’s the story behind it?
Interestingly enough, while Massachusetts was the sixth state to join the Union way back in 1788, the commonwealth didn't officially have a state flag to represent its government until 1908. In 1908, Massachusetts adopted a state flag much like the design we know today, but it was one of the only states to adopt a state flag with a design on the reverse side of the flag. Fun fact: today there is only one state that still has a design on the back side of their flag and that state is Oregon.
By RoyFocker 12 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6441227
That reverse design, found on our state sweater, lasted on the flag until 1971. So what's the significance of the pine tree?
The pine tree depicted on the flag represented New England, and in the later historic context of the American Revolution: Independence. It's no coincidence both historic flags of Maine and Massachusetts share a pine tree; they were in fact the same territory until 1819. The first pine tree flag of New England was recorded way before the American Revolution in 1686, but it gained in popularity during the Revolution as colonists wished to further separate themselves from England.
By Thespoondragon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79930056
Fast forward a couple centuries and the flag went through a handful of modifications before the symbol of the tree itself found its way on the reverse side of the Flag of Massachusetts. Although the symbol was no longer in official flag use after 1971, it has more recently kicked back into New England culture. You can find flags scattered throughout the region, but most notably the MLS New England Revolution have adopted the symbol as part of their club. At Third Assist, we enjoyed the history behind the symbol and wanted to design a sweater behind the New England focal point.
So what do you think of the design? Know more of the history? Feel free to share your thoughts below