In honor of football season, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you, my readers, to a Texas phenomenon…..the homecoming mum. This is something that everyone outside of Texas that I meet seems completely baffled by. I thought that it was totally normal to be adorned in teddy bears, ribbons, and bells every year. Turns out I was just lucky enough to go to school in a place where this happens. (Full disclaimer, I am simply talking about my experiences here. I understand that each school and each person has their own homecoming experiences. I’d love to hear about yours!)
Let’s start off with what is a mum? It began as a simple flower (chrysanthemum) that the boys would give their dates, then it went and got Texas. A mum is a silk flower with at least one teddy bear, ribbons, bells, and other paraphernalia dripping off of it. Boys give it to their date to wear to school the Friday of the big homecoming game and the day before the formal dance. Girls give their dates a corresponding garter that is worn on their arm. It is a mean business, with some mums going for hundreds of dollars. It’s such a phenomenon that Dallas magazine even highlighted MY high school in an article about mums!
Here’s a rundown of how homecoming worked at my school. There is a theme, this is crucial because each of the grades and the clubs would take the time to decorate a hallway according to the theme. Don’t think they halfassed it….this is Texas, you go big or you go home. Every single wall and square of floor would be covered with colored paper or decorations. French club made a hallway with romantic silhouettes, an Eiffel Tower, and the Seine river running down the language arts hall. The Junior class took the large, extra wide hallway upstairs and turned it into a Medieval jousting arena. The cheer squad took the quad and covered it in red, white, and blue. Everywhere you looked, there was spirit. Everyone go into it.
Each day of homecoming week there was a different theme and everyone would dress up accordingly. My favorite is still “Through the Decades Thursday”. Some dressed as hippies, some dolled up like in Grease, some did the Roaring 20’s. My friends and I dressed up as early 90’s gansters. We went all out with one rolled up pant leg, a boombox playing Salt’N’Pepa, and overalls.
Friday was spirit day. We had a big pep rally complete with performances by our cheer squad, drill team, mascot, and skits by our men’s spirit squad. They were hilarious and an amazing excuse to skip class.
Everyone basically started preparing for Homecoming at the beginning of the school year. Guys would go all out to ask their dates to homecoming, including announcements on the loudspeaker, rose petals spelling it out on her lawn, and deliveries of giant teddy bears to school. Once you had your date nailed down, you would then get your group of friend together. Each group made shirts that had the names of all of the couples in the group on it, they would be spirit colored (red, white, and blue), and had a nod to the homecoming theme. You would also wear your aforementioned mum.
My friends, this is where it gets really interesting. These mums were such a huge deal that I knew girls who refused to come to school that day because they didn’t have one or theirs was small and embarrassing. The bigger the better….this is Texas! Freshman and Sophmores usually had the smallest, then by the time you are a senior, you need to reinforce your shirt so that it will stay on. The mum is a symbol of who you are. My mum my junior year had one teddy bear holding a music note and ballet slippers (because I was in choir and in dance) and a second teddy bear that had a soccer ball (because my date was on the varsity soccer team). You then have streams of ribbons hanging down from your teddy bear adorned mum with oodles of ribbons, bells, whistles, and decorations that represented each thing you were involved in. Every mum is different. Literally nothing got done at school that day because every time any girl moved in the slightest, there was a cacophony of sound. Basically it was an obnoxiously loud and joyous day. That night everyone shows up at the football game in full mum regalia and we have the biggest show of school spirit all year. The next day is the formal homecoming dance. Girls wear floor length formal dresses, guys are in tuxedos. Corsages are exchanged. The girls flock to the malls and salons to have their hair and make-up professionally done for occasion. Limos and party buses are rented for the night. Some lucky guys get to borrow fancy cars from their dads. No matter what, you arrive in style. The space is done up to the nines, the music is loud, and everyone dances until they kick us out. Then we all head out to our respective after parties. It is the talk of the school for weeks afterwards.
Living in California and talking to my high school staff, I am always blown away by how casual homecoming is. Some go to the game, some don’t. There are no mums, no shirts, no themed days. Hardly anyone goes to the games. Its a totally different world. Through all of the pomp and circumstance of it, I loved every minute of homecoming and am so glad that I was able to experience it.
For some more Texas reading, check out:
Homecoming in Bloom
27 Mums That Nailed The Whole Homecoming Thing
27 Things People Who Went To High School In Texas Will Understand
Check back on Thursday for my recipe for Peach BBQ Sliders!