Evolution of mums, garters


Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes homecoming mums. Although mums and garters are a celebration for schools in the South, the first chrysanthemum was grown in China over 3,500 years ago. They were eventually found in Japan 2,000 years later, and the flower was worn on the crest of the emperors. It wasn’t until 1753 that the chrysanthemum was introduced to the West.

At the time, the chrysanthemum was a rare, large flower, so to receive one was a sign of flattery and affection. Chrysanthemums were also a show of popularity, designating social status.
Homecoming has been a large part of Southern culture for years. But, the homecoming mums started in Texas in the early 1930’s. Over the years the Texas tradition of “go big or go home” became increasingly obvious throughout this custom.

The first homecoming mums were made with real chrysanthemums, but soon silk flowers were used to avoid wilting and to make the mums last longer. They also made the mum easier to personalize. The real flower could only withstand so much glue and ribbons, so when the use of a silk flower became popular, the mums started getting bigger and more elaborate.

The bigger the mums become, the higher the prices.  Girls yearn for personalized ones, to fit school colors and activities. These tend to be larger than the person wearing them. Dates with crafty moms run from store to store trying to find yards of ribbon, gallons of glitter, tiny stuffed bears and the loudest bells possible. This leaves Texans baffled as to why other states think Texans are crazy.

 Finding ribbons and streamers can sometimes be a challenge when the whole town goes to the same Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. To avoid the crowds, look for silver and red ribbons in the Christmas section of the store. Craft stores in other areas before or after their homecomings can also have similar school colors. Instead of spending large sums of money for something that is only worn once, putting forth some initiative can save you money.

For the less creative date, many stores sell pre-made mums. Prices range from about $100 to over $300 depending on the amount of flowers and accessories, especially if lights and sound are included.  Homemade mums can be quite a bit less if bargain hunting is involved

The massive chrysanthemums changing from rare gifts, into plastic flowers roaming high school hallways complete with LED lights and virtual picture frames. Whether the homecoming goer choses to go simple or all out is personal choice, but there’s no escaping this Texas tradition of school spirit.