There are some long standing traditions that are unique to Texas football, and even more so, the fans. Take, for example, the high school homecoming mum. What is a homecoming mum? You may be thinking that the Homecoming Queen simply goes by another name in the South, or that her mother also plays a role in the festivities. Homecoming Queen and Homecoming Mum…would make sense. However, a mum refers to a unique flower collage that is deeply rooted in Texas football history.
This homecoming mum tradition has been alive for many years. So many years, that many Teens are unaware of the actual details that are responsible for the beginning. However, agreement surrounds the idea that Homecoming mums are a vital part of football season, and young girls look forward to the day that they will receive their first homecoming mum.
The first homecoming mums were given in the early 1930’s at high school homecoming football games across Texas. Boys offered real chrysanthemum flowers to their dates in the form of a corsage. A chrysanthemum is a very large, rare, and beautiful flower, and to receive one was a sure sign of flattery as well as an unusual circumstance in those times. Even early on, girls competed with one another to receive mums, as they were given out in limited quantities. Mums were a sign of popularity, so girls that received mums confirmed their social status.
The styles and variety has evolved as silk flowers became available and concerns over wilting flowers dicipated. The hefty silk mums could withstand hot glue, heavy attachments, and much more, so the addition of ribbons, streamers, stickers, and more became a way to personalize a mum for a special girl. The desire to include special details- info on the student, the activities they are involved in, school colors, etc. created a unique masterpiece that could be saved as a special high school memory. With this, the mums became bigger and better all of the time, and the desire for a custom homecoming mum became commonplace.
Understanding the Trend Today:
Most Texans are familiar with this tradition. However, if you’re recently relocated to Texas, or have found yourself examining this tradition in a new light, you may be wondering if, or why, you (or your son) may be pressured to reciprocate in this tradition. The following topics are intended to shed some light on current homecoming practices.
Who should give/receive a mum?
With high school students today, mums are typically given from a boy to a girl when they are attending the homecoming game or dance together (friends included), or if a boy simply wants to impress a girl for any reason. Today, girls often reciprocate with a male version of the mum, called a “garter”, which is worn on the arm of the young man. It is much smaller than the homecoming mum. Know that, if you plan to give a homecoming mum, you will very likely be receiving a garter in return.
Many high school students view the mum as imperative to their homecoming attire, and some students would prefer to stay home than attend the game than attend without one. Remember, going “mum-less” can be viewed by the cruel high school crowds as an indicator of social status. So, for this reason, mothers and friends (whether boys or girls) often give homecoming mums as well.
Girl can choose to receive a mum from anyone she chooses, and can even accept multiple mums. Homecoming queens are often photographed wearing several homecoming mums, as she would be expected to receive five, six, or even seven based on her social status. However, girls can also decline a mum in the same way they may reject a date.
Elementary and junior high aged students, parents of football players, allumni, and teachers may also wear homecoming mums to show team spirit, and excitement for the festivities.
When do people wear homecoming mums?
Students typically begin wearing homecoming mums the Friday before their high school football game. All schools are different, but most students wear them only on the day before the game. Students also typically wear homecoming mums during the football game AND after to their homecoming formal dance. If you are new to Texas, check with a friend on the common practices in your community.
I want to impress my date. How should I go about purchasing a mum?
The current trends include ribbons (over 3 feet long) which graze the knee, and often include loud noise makers such as whistles and cow bells to use during the football game. More importantly, they includes important information about the student who receives it. For example, a custom mum (and one that a girl would like) might include her name, school name, or graduation year. Extra details would likely describe any “extra curricular” activities that she, and her date, are involved in.
Essentially, this is a keepsake that provides a snap shot of exactly where these two people are at during that one week of their high school life. If a couple is attending as friends, the mum could include general information and be of medium size. Hearts and other romantic details should be kept off so neither party gets the wrong impression from the event. On the other hand, it is fair game to go all out with the above details and any additional important details for a serious high school couple. Keep in mind, most girls save them afterwards, and pack them away as a memory along with high school year books. She will notice if her mum was “mass produced” at a local grocery store or flower shop just as she will appreciate any personalized details.
What else should I know?
A homecoming mum can weigh as much as 12 pounds or more! Wow! Often girls take mums off part way through the school day because they are so heavy, and exhausting, to wear!
The only real “down” side to homecoming mums is that the traditional materials that are used can fall apart. The traditional gift ribbons and metallic stickers can suffer adrenalin shock after being worn through crowded hallways and in the stands at the game. Consider how long you (or your date) would like the streamers to be so that the mum is functional and comfortable. Any bent or creased ribbons can take away from the appearance after the game is over, and, years later, your memory may not hold up.