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The history of the 'Homecoming Mum'
Mums: the sometimes bizarre autumnal tradition that plagues Texas high schools every year. To student’s at Heath, it’s normal. Why wouldn’t one want a giant corsage with all possible types of ribbon, feathery boas, LED lights, and small plush bears strapped to their chest for a day?
The first ‘Homecoming’ has been traced back to 1909 at Baylor University. Alumni were invited back to their Alma mater for a football game and accompanied by pep rallies, parades, and other festivities. Somehow it caught on and High schools all across the state of Texas picked up the tradition in the late-1940s. And the rest, well, it’s history.
Beginning in the 1950s, chrysanthemum corsages were swapped between couples for Homecoming, and they often had a few ribbons here and there. Mums were made only by florists, not parents or anyone with a hot glue gun. The flowers were real at that time, and the corsages stayed very small. They were also extremely inexpensive when compared to how much they are now, as mums nowadays can be up to the same price as an Xbox. But over the years, the ‘real’ mums were swapped for silk flowers, allowing girls to keep them as a keepsake. This was the first evolution of ‘The Homecoming Mum’.
In true Texas fashion, mums grew even bigger in the 1980s, but they still didn’t have the crazy add-ons there are today. Some still had real flowers, and many would be considered “small” by today’s standards. Mums continued to grow into what they are today, with the addition of lights, boas, and multiple silk flowers.
Today, mums can be made by just about anyone. Some people have even become rich off of mum-making, and they’ve served as great fundraisers for school organizations across Texas. As for the price of mums now, they can range from $20 to $300, depending on what one is willing to carry around for 7 hours.
Mums are a hallmark of the Texas high school experience. ‘Mum Day’ is not ‘Mum Day’ if the hallways don’t sound like they’ve been filled with a herd of cattle. ‘Homecoming Mums’ have become an almost surreal form of American folk art, and they’re only going to get more extravagant each year.