The sights, smells, and sounds of fall are starting to trickle into our days. Cooler evenings, pumpkin-spiced everything, and the sounds of your local high school football game on a Friday evening wafting through the air are just a few indicators of Texas autumn days. Soon you will hear the jingling of bells and swishing of ribbon but that isn’t because we are anywhere near a gift-giving holiday but rather a time of year some Texans may argue is even better than any yuletide celebration: HOMECOMING.
Why the bells and whistles (and ribbons, bears, braids, cowbells) one might ask? A homecoming weekend is traditionally a time to celebrate a school’s alumni coming home to reminisce and support their alma mater. However, homecoming in Texas has become so much more than some Friday night lights. The real show stopper of the weekend and ultimate Texas-sized trademark are the mums dripping in decorations and oozing school spirit.
Mums the word: What is a Homecoming Mum?
A homecoming mum is a gift given by dates attending the homecoming dance together. What was once a fresh flower corsage has become a statement piece that signals the annual school celebration.
Traditionally the base of the mum is a large silk chrysanthemum flower that is then decorated with personalized elements describing the school and person wearing the mum. These details might include names, activities, school colors, etc. Ladies typically wear a larger mum with longer ribbons pinned to the front of their shirt or worn with a rope around the neck and gentlemen typically wear smaller mums with shorter ribbons attached to an armband or garter.
The reasoning behind the mum is both a mix of tradition and school spirit but ultimately a fun way to celebrate the homecoming football game and following dance.
Mums through the ages: History of Homecoming Mums
Homecoming mums were not always the large monstrosities of ribbons and glitter seemingly swallowing up high school girls we see today. The tradition of homecoming mums in Texas dates back to the 1950s and 1960s when mums were worn as corsages to the homecoming game and dance. Over time, ribbons were added to the base of the flower, usually in the school’s colors.
While Homecoming mums have become a staple of high school football seasons, the tradition did not originate in the great state of Texas! The first homecoming mums were actually worn at the very first homecoming game in 1911 in Missouri. The first Texas homecoming mum was spotted in 1936 at Baylor University.
While being cost-efficient, due to the fragile quality and short life span of cut flowers, homecoming mums eventually transitioned to being made with silk flowers for longevity’s sake in the 1990s. From that point on mums have only gotten more elaborately decorated by professionally made shops and hobbyists alike. Mums today have a wide variety of pricing ranging from $50 dollars to $500+ depending on the details.
In 2015, a Palo Duro Highschool floral design class set out to win the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest homecoming mum. The mum was made with 93 carnations, 32 chrysanthemums, 15 feet of ribbon, and blue lights and measuring 55 inches wide. Truly the monster of all mums only to be beaten in 2017 by a University High School student in Waco Texas whose mum weighed in at 50 pounds and had to be worn on her back!
Everything is bigger in Texas: Mum Resources
Now you might be asking yourself – where do I even begin to find a mum, make a mum, order a mum? A great resource is the Find-a-Mum feature of Mums, Inc., a community for professional mum makers. There are plenty of local resources at your fingertips to ensure your homecoming mum experience is one to be remembered!
- The Mum Shop – A family-owned business since 1984, they know their stuff when it comes to local schools and all things mum related!
- Mums and Kisses – A small business offering packages to build and design your own mum, premade packages, and mum supplies to DIY at home!
- DK Florals, Inc – located in Denton this woman-owned business is passionate about the art of mum making and prides themselves on class and elegance being the forefront of their craft
Your school’s parent-teacher association and organization booster clubs are also a fantastic resource when ordering a mum. Many schools use this as a fundraising opportunity and provide mum-making services close to campus!
Some may say the tradition of mum is ridiculous, but there is always fun to be found in a whimsical, fun, fall, Texas-sized tradition!