FORT WORTH, Texas October 7, 2017 — Texas has many traditions and one of the most original is the homecoming mum. No, the Lone Star State did not invent the autumn corsage. That honor goes to the University of Missouri. The whole idea of inviting alumni to come home for a football game, festivities, and a dance began there.
However, the mums took on a life of their own in Texas. They’ve gone from a real chrysanthemum and maybe some ribbons to a portable craft store display. Prices range from about $40 to $600.
This time of year grocery and craft stores ply their trade of base model mums with local high school colors. Frugal parents buy extra ribbon, charms, boas, stuffed animals, bows, trinkets, and assorted tchotchkes to embellish the corsage. Some even buy LED lights and speakers for sound.
They can be ordered from craft and grocery stores; florists sell them as well as specialty stores or home businesses that only operate this time of year.
Traditionally the boy would ask a girl to homecoming and he would buy the corsage, or his mother would make one. The custom grew to include a garter worn on a boy’s arm, bought or made by the girl. Single people now sport the homecoming adornments too.
It used to be that if you didn’t have a date for homecoming you didn’t get a corsage. Girls wear their mums to school the day of homecoming if it isn’t too big – but then in Texas what is too big (see image left).
People go to the game not just to watch football but to see all the mums on display. They are single, double, triple, quadruple flowered, and even bigger. Some are too big to be pinned to a blouse or sweater. The giant mums have added ribbon to go around the neck of the wearer, and sometimes even have to encircle her back.
Texas transplants to other states have tried to take this tradition with them without much success. And although there are a few high schools in other areas that do this Texans wonder why other states haven’t caught on to this rite of passage. Maybe one day they will.