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Evolution of a Texan Tradition: The Story Behind Homecoming Mums

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

In the vibrant Spring of 1992, my husband and I embarked on a memorable week in Ireland, a journey that surpassed all expectations. The warmth of the people we encountered resonated, leading to spirited discussions about our origins, with Dallas (the TV show), John F. Kennedy, and horses taking center stage. It's in these conversations that I realized the global reputation of Texas, a pride that extends even to our quirkiest traditions, including the unique Texan phenomenon known as the Homecoming Mum.

To unravel the essence of the modern homecoming mum, we must rewind to its origins, harking back to another beloved Texan institution—college football games. Originating in the early 20th century, possibly in Missouri, college homecoming games emerged as a tribute to returning alumni and residents. These games were accompanied by parades, bonfires, dances, and a touch of royalty. With flowers becoming a natural part of parades and dances, the chrysanthemum, blooming in the fall, found its perfect place as a colorful homecoming corsage. The tradition of gifting "mum" corsages to homecoming dates by young men was born.

In the great state of Texas, a visionary florist decided to elevate the tradition by adding long, school-color ribbons to the corsage, thus giving birth to the iconic Texas Mum. Exploring Baylor University's yearbooks reveals mums gracing the young ladies dating back to 1940, marking the early adoption of this distinctive Texan tradition.

By the 1960's, Texas high schools had embraced the college-inspired homecoming game and the mum corsage. While my mother, graduating in 1966 from Brazosport High School, doesn't recall the prominence of homecoming mums, a photograph from her 8th-grade year, around 1960, suggests otherwise.

By the time of my graduation from Alvin High School in 1988, homecoming mums had grown in size and extravagance. Multiple flowers adorned these corsages, bestowed upon girls by boyfriends, family, and friends. Florists employed fresh chrysanthemums, embellishing them with pipe cleaner letters, glittering words on ribbons, rabbits' feet for luck, football trinkets, and an abundance of bells. The ethos was clear: the longer and noisier, the better!

The 1990s brought a paradigm shift as fresh flower mums faded into history. The desire to preserve mementos led to the introduction of silk chrysanthemums and the rise of DIY mum makers. Fueled by teenage fashion trends and a hint of friendly competition, homecoming mums evolved into the modern spectacles we know today. Varied in size but consistently special and unique, homecoming mums have become a canvas for celebrating school spirit and showcasing the wearer's personality. No longer restricted to being gifts from dates, mums can be bestowed by parents, grandparents, friends, or even crafted by the wearers themselves—a true embodiment of Texan individualism and creativity.

If you are ready to take part in the great Texas tradition, begin your custom homecoming order here.

If you're still curious, here is a gallery of some of my work.


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