Lone Star homecomings sure are fun. Especially since the old saying that "everything's bigger in Texas" is increasingly true when it comes to the corsages known in Texas as homecoming mums -- those craft-projects-gone-wild that high schoolers wear during the week of the homecoming football game.
What used to be a corsage featuring a few chrysanthemums bedecked with ribbons and trinkets has become a competition in and of itself, with as much blood, sweat and ire as any grueling gridiron kerfuffle.
Some of the creations use literal bells and whistles, people. Wearing a homecoming mum is like becoming a life-size parade float.
Here's the mum backstory, drawn from Dallas Morning News archives: By the 1930s, mums had become a traditional fall flower in the United States. Movie stars (think Barbara Stanwyck) often wore them. The floral industry started promoting the flowers as football game corsages.
"By the '40s, mums were already very much implanted into the ideas of Texans. By the '50s and '60s, they'd become so elaborate," Rocky Pollitz of Telefloral floral wire service told The News in 1994.
"Mums aren't like this anywhere else in the country."
That's for sure, and it's largely a Texas phenomenon. Today's homecoming mums rarely involve live flowers, but there are silk blooms, trinkets, bells, ribbons, stuffed animals, cardboard backings and even blinking LED lights in the mix. No straight pin could hold the sheer weight of many of the creations, so nowadays they're often suspended from a ribbon tied around the neck.
Mums definitely need to be explained to non-Texas friends.
Who gets them? Who gives them?
It varies. Traditionally, the mum exchange would have been between a boy and girl who go to homecoming together. But the rules have relaxed over the years. Mums are tailored to the interests of the wearer, with themes ranging from the traditional footballs and school mascots to, say, your favorite Pokémon character or pop star. Beyoncé's face, where you at?
Sometimes a boy might make a custom mum for his homecoming date, or he might leave the mum-making to his mum -- uh, mom -- or to a florist. A girl making a mum for herself or a friend ties ribbons to mums and gizmos to ribbons. She makes a mum for her date, too, which she attaches to a garter and secures to his upper arm. Chances are, his mum is more subdued than hers.
Really, you can wear a mum from your date, parents, friend, drill-team squadron leader, whoever. (If your dog's really lucky, you'll make one for it, too.)
Mum stores are a thing
Sure, you could go to a regular big-box craft store for supplies to make your own. Florists or small businesses selling mums are another option, and the most elaborate creations can run you into the $400 range. But there are stores with humongous areas specifically devoted to mum-making, including the Mum Shop in Plano and the Saleplace in Balch Springs. Expect endless racks of starter mums to embellish, as well as ribbons and trinkets galore.
There's terminology attached
You can go for a single, double, triple or quad mum. They're named for the number of humongous flowers used in your mum-strocity. If it's called a mega mum, the specifics vary, but you can be assured that it's tremendously huge.
More to know
- If you wear your mum during the school day, some teachers will make you tape your bells (because, of course you have bells, and they're distracting).
- Senior mums are often white.
- Want to see more? Texas photographer Nancy Newberry devoted a 2007 photo series to the mum.
Now that you're in the know on this Lone Star tradition, let's raise a Shiner Bock (those of us who are over 21, that is) to Buc-ee's, taco emojis, sleetmageddons, ridiculous bluebonnet photos, and massive, beautiful, unsettling, bewildering, glittering, whimsical homecoming mums.
Proud of yours? Tweet us a pic. Or tag us on Instagram for a shout out.
Ann Pinson, Leslie Barker and Brentney Hamilton contributed to this report.