Today was my daughter’s first homecoming as a high school freshman. Like many girls, she received a homecoming mum. The sight of young women with elaborate neck-to-ankle ribbons and trinkets often leaves the uninitiated thinking “What the heck?.” Read on and find out everything you need to know about homecoming and homecoming mums.
a little homecoming history
Texans love their football, and the highlight of each season is the annual homecoming game. Southwestern University held the first recorded homecoming celebration along the banks of the San Gabriel River in my hometown of Georgetown, Texas.
The University invited alumni to “enjoy the first great Home-coming of her students” on April 21, 1909. The University’s Megaphone newspaper reported: “it is doubtful if ever such another occasion has been known in Texas.”
In November of that same year, Baylor University held the first homecoming football game and celebration.
what exactly is a homecoming mum?
Traditionally, coeds wear homecoming mums (mums for short) to show school spirit and celebrate their school’s homecoming football game.
Colorful ribbons surround the mum which is more likely to be artificial than real. Elaborate braids and shiny trinkets dangle below the flower among ribbons with sticker letters spelling out the wearer’s name and graduation year. Larger homecoming mums may have multiple flowers and require the wearer to use a harness to hang the corsage around her neck.
In Texas, mums are available to purchase at florists, grocery stores, and craft stores. DIY Mums are a big business, and supplies fill Texas craft stores each Fall. A modest do-it-yourself mum may cost as low as $25, but an elaborate store-bought mum costs well over $100.
history of homecoming mums
No one knows exactly when or where homecoming mums got their start, but the Baylor Library Digital Collection gives some clues. In Baylor’s 1937 yearbook, the homecoming queen is pictured wearing a simple flower corsage.
In 1939, homecoming corsages included a few short ribbons.
homecoming mums in the 1940s and 1950s
By 1947, mums began to resemble the familiar style we see today.
1960s and 1970s homecoming mums
The 1960s and 1970s, saw the addition of pipe cleaners hearts and school inititials on top of the mum as well as words written on the ribbons with glitter glue or sticker letters.
1980s homecoming mums
1990s and beyond
Today, a young woman may receive a homecoming mum from her date, parents, or a close friend (or sometimes all three). A girl gives her date a smaller homecoming garter to wear on his arm. Some of the garters are larger than the homecoming mums girls wore back in my high school days.
So what do YOU think about homecoming mums? Were they a tradition where you went to high school?