The Making of a mum
By: Morgan Schorn / Special Contributor | Published: October 4, 2019
Homecoming mums are a tradition celebrated all across Texas, by students in high school and college.
Between the months of September and November, high schools and colleges across the country celebrate Homecoming, which normally consists of a football game where alumni come home and support their alma mater for a football game, and a school dance follows the next day. However, this means something different to Texan girls and boys, because of a tradition called Mums.
Normally girls wear a large decorated flower called a mum the night of the Homecoming game as a gift from their date. Mums are made of silk synthetic flower bases and decorated with school-colored ribbons and trinkets, sometimes even LED lights and speakers. To anyone outside of Texas, this tradition is incredibly foreign and tacky. Yet it is a beloved tradition by many Texans and to fully understand it, you must know the history of the tradition.
The word “mum” is actually an abbreviation of the word “chrysanthemum” -- a flower that blooms in the fall. Chrysanthemums were the main flower of choice that many boys used for corsages, because they are in bloom at the time of Homecoming. As girls received their gift of a chrysanthemum flower, many took to pinning it to their chest, and thus the first mum was born.
However, as time wore on, the flowers got bigger and bigger and slowly people started adding items to the flower, such as a streamer to show school pride, or a small megaphone trinket for the members of the cheer team.
In the 1970s the traditional chrysanthemum was replaced with a synthetic flower so that it would be easier to decorate and save as a keepsake. This is when mums started to grow in size and become more over-the-top. Mums became so heavy, straps had to be built in because the pins could no longer support the weight of the momentous object of self expression. At some point in the early 2000’s, LED lights were introduced to light up people’s mums to further accessorize them. The actual size of the synthetic flower has also grown as many girls have mums with double or even triple flowers.
Mums can also be incredibly expensive for something you only wear once. Some homemade mums can cost up to $300 if lights and speakers are included. The price point has become a large source of criticism for mums and how they can be used as a source of status and popularity, causing an inequality for students who can afford to spend more on their mum. Yet many schools, such as Lake Highlands, sell affordable mums through the school and use it as a fundraiser for extracurricular school activities, such as the band.
Despite the controversy, mums can be expected to remain a Texas tradition well into the future. They have a historical background and are rooted in the current generation’s high school experience. As this tradition continues, it can be expected that add on items will become even more outrageous, but all in all, mums are a fun way to celebrate Homecoming, and the memories that students attach to them are irreplaceable.