Mums & Garters: Looking beyond the roots

A post-Homecoming reflection of a widely admired high school tradition


Bells jingle down the hallway and colorful ribbons trail behind. Intricately folded fabric hangs down,  spelling out “Homecoming ‘23” with a small white bear fastened to the center. White flowers surround the middle, helping the mum to appear larger by filling space.  

A week of controlled chaos keeps high school students busy with the Homecoming dance, football game, pep rally, community wide parades, and other events in between. 

“Homecoming is more than just dressing up or making mums. It’s a week of celebrating each other, celebrating our school, and uplifting each other,” senior Ifeabia Okororie said, a Mums with Friends volunteer. 

Mums with Friends is an annual event organized by the student council in partnership with the special education department during Homecoming week, where student volunteers work with special needs students to create their mums. 

“I hope that us working on these mums with our special education students will help them feel included. They are just as much a part of the student body as we are,” Okororie said. “Uplifting them and celebrating them as well as our ability lets, is what inspired us to help with this.” 

Although mums take a big part in the pride of Texas,  mums originated from Missouri. Homecoming mums have been a Texan tradition since the 30’s. 

In the traditional origins, boys would gift their dates a mum and their dates would give a garter in return, which is a miniature version of the mum that wraps around the arm instead of hanging from the neck. 

Mums aren’t cheap. Students spend upwards of $100-$200 for a personalized mum. Small businesses like The Mum Shop and Mums R Us are busier than ever during Homecoming season.


“When I moved here in 7th grade, my mom learned about the mum tradition,” junior Reagyn Harrington said. “She started researching about it and used it to bond with both me and my sister. Every year we go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels and we just buy a bunch of ribbons. It usually takes around 2-3 hours per mum.”

Making mums is a very intricate process that represents quality time between parents and their kids. Many of them are community organized businesses where mothers get together to make mums with their kids and turn it into a seasonal business. 

“I think the whole process makes it very personal. A lot of the things that my sister and I have worn with the mums are very personalized to us. Mine represents all my color guard, band, and photography work,” Harrington said. 

Floral design students are tasked with making their own mums every Homecoming season. Under the guidance of their teacher and access to crafts, they learn about the symbolism of the mum as they personalize their own. 

“It is a great opportunity to learn more about the elements of design while also being able to make a mum for free and use them throughout the year in our flower arrangements,” senior Kennedy Green said. “As an advanced floral student, it was a lot of fun creating something special and building on my knowledge from the previous year.” 

A token of appreciation towards the good times of the late night games and thrilling pep rallies, many students add to their mum throughout the years making it the perfect sentimental parting present for when they graduate. 

“Years from now, I want to be able to look back at my mum and associate all the great memories made with it,” sophomore Jocelyn Johnson said. “It’s not about the finished product, it’s about tradition and celebrating.”