Friday, October 27, 2023

Mum's the Word

When I first saw Texas homecoming mums, I thought they looked ridiculous.

More than a decade later, I still think Texas homecoming mums look kind of ridiculous (some more than others), but that didn't stop me from jumping on the band wagon as Hallie prepared to attend her first high school dance earlier this month.

But wait...for those of you who don't hail from Texas, allow me to explain.

Mums - short for chrysanthemums - are a long-held homecoming tradition in Texas. The first mum was spotted at Baylor University in 1936, and just like that, the gesture of a couple gifting one another a mum before the homecoming football game became a tradition. 

Mums were originally made of real chrysanthemums adorned with ribbons in the wearer's school colors and accessories that highlighted the wearer's interests. The first mums were small enough, both in size and weight, that they could be pinned to the wearers' tops. 

Throughout the years, however, these once simple mums have taken on lives of their own.

Mums have grown in size significantly, to the point that most - at least those worn by girls - are either too large or too heavy to be worn any other way than around the neck. The ribbons and accessories have multiplied, and embellishments like beads, rhinestones, bells, boas, photos, lights, and stuffed animals are now common place. Faux flowers have replaced live flowers so the mums will last longer. 

Photo credit: Texas Homecoming Mums & Garters Facebook page, by way of my "mum expert" friend, Elicia. Check out this page if you'd like to see more extravagance!

Many kids still make (or have their moms make) mums for their homecoming dates, but the tradition has expanded to the point that anyone and everyone who wants to make and wear one can...and does. Mums are commonly worn to school on the day of the homecoming football game, to the homecoming football game, and to "photo shoots" before the dance.

"Everything is bigger in Texas" applies to the mums themselves, but also to the mum business. Come fall, just about every craft store in Texas boasts a section (department?) devoted to mum materials, and you can purchase supplies online as well. Or, if you're not the crafting type, you can hire someone to make your mum for you...for a pretty penny. 

Mums, at least those ordered and purchased from mum stores (yes, there are mum stores) or home-based businesses can cost a few hundred dollars, and it's easy to spend close to $100 on materials from Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or Amazon if you're making a mum yourself. If I had the patience for this kind of crafting, I'd probably be making mums as a side hustle.

For Hallie and her friends, we (the moms) opted to have another friend - who just started dabbling in mum design, assembly, accessories, etc. - make some of our fancier ribbons and cut a few different images for us. Then we took those pieces and layered them with raw materials we'd purchased on our own to create the finished product. It took quite a while and more patience than most of us had, but we loved the end results. 

This tradition might seem a little silly, but it was also a lot of fun and allowed Hallie and her friends to showcase their personalities and school spirit - a win in my book.

Oh, and please don't anyone tell Tom - my Mad Scientist Lightsmith - that mums can have lights. I can only imagine what Hallie's next mum would look like... 


Just for fun, here are a few AMAZING pics of my born-and-bred Texan friends with their high school mums a *few* years ago. Thanks for sharing and letting me share, friends. 

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