Don’t Mess with Texas, Big Hair and Homecoming Mums …


Don’t Mess with Texas isn’t just a slogan made popular by the Department of Highways and Public Transportation to keep trash off the highways, but it’s a way of life in Texas.

There are a few things you don’t mess with in Texas… our cattle, our man, our domain, our right to bear arms, and our big hair. I was raised with big hair, graduated high school with big hair, married and had my two baby girls all with big hair.  By the way, although “big hair” fell to the wayside the last decade or two, it’s back in full force!  And no, the hairdo’s on GCB aren’t true Texas big-dos. We’re more a cross between the ladies on the show and Dolly Parton.

But the biggest thing in Texas that you don’t mess with is our football!  Yes, we love the Dallas Cowboys, but high school and college football is bred into all true Texans. 

Preparing for this year’s homecoming for my alma mater, and no it wasn’t for me but three of my granddaughters who attend the same high school as I did, I came across an interesting fact.  Over the years many of their friends have moved out of the region and reported back that most parts of the country don’t celebrate their big game with the fanfare of homecoming corsages. What!  No mums? So off I went to research.

In 1911, the first homecoming celebration took place. University of  Missouri Athletic Director, Chester Brewer, afraid that fans and alumnus would not attend the “big game” due to a change in location, devised a plan to add some excitement to the game. He challenged the alumnus to return home for a great celebration with parades, parties, a pep rally, and of course the big game.  Over 9,000 fans attended, which is recorded as the first official homecoming game. The rest is history. Now almost every high school and college in the country continues this annual tradition.

While the excitement of homecoming itself isn’t unique to Texas, the tradition of the homecoming mum is something for which we Texans can claim full responsibility.   It’s a true southern tradition. Only one person can be a homecoming queen, but everyone can wear a mum fit for royalty.  

In the early 1930’s, the first mums were given out at high school football games across the state of  Texas, but in much smaller forms than those of today. Now days, most parents have to save up a month’s pay to buy the perfect chrysanthemum and all the trinkets and charms as jewelry for that “special” mum. And the guys aren’t left out either. The girl’s parents have to spend half as much for a garter made just for them.

So, I discovered that homecoming mums in all their glory is a southern custom and the more south you go the bigger they get; as tradition goes, most of them have bells and whistles, and usually a football or two. Charms are usually chosen to represent the wearer. A basketball may be added for a basketball player or a music note for a band student. Letters and numbers are applied on the ribbons with the wearers name, school year, and boy or girlfriend’s name. White and silver mums are sometimes worn by seniors to set them apart from underclassmen.  Ribbons are also a part of the look. Braided ribbons or beaded garlands of stars, hearts, footballs, bears, or chains are added to personalize your mum. Of course the ribbon colors reflect those of your school.

Traditionally, a mum is hung on your bedroom wall after the big game and is one of the memoirs a girl puts in a box and leaves at her parents’ house until the young woman has daughters of her own.  This picture is my youngest granddaughter wearing one of her mother’s mums from high school.  The top picture is “other” mums hid away in the box in her mother’s old bedroom.  

Do you have corsages and garters for your high school or collage homecoming? Tell us all about them.

The Fillies at Wildflower Junction are dang sure smittened with our new look.  Hope you all are too.  Better keep your eyes and ears open and keep checkin’ in with us’cause there’s gonna be some real fun happenings in the Junction over the next few weeks. Just don’t want any of you all to be slow on the draw.


Website | + posts

A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at

21 thoughts on “Don’t Mess with Texas, Big Hair and Homecoming Mums …”

  1. The homecoming mums are still a bit of a mystery to me, Phyliss. I attended HS in California and we bought corsages for the big dance, but no mums. All of my children are Texas bred, though, so I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect for my freshman daughter when homecoming came up last week. She didn’t mention anything about mums, so we didn’t buy one, but we might have to look into it for future years. It rained all night during the homecoming festivities, so she didn’t get to take the field with the band at the football game and the homecoming court were all stuck under golf umbrellas, but at least she didn’t stand out for not having a mum. All the band members were covered up in purple panchos so no one could tell who wore a mum and who didn’t. 🙂

  2. I’ve never seen a mum with dangles like those. We just had homecoming here, and the girls most often wear a wrist corsage. What I think is crazy (and most often tacky) is the disappearance of the tops of dresses, wedding dresses included. Some girls may look nice in strapless dresses, but most definitely do not. They’re very unflattering. I even saw a few at a funeral this summer.

  3. Phylis, this is really interesting. I never saw mums like these. It’s been awhile since any of my kids attended a homecoming, but it used to be wrist corsages. Now it’s probably tattoos.

  4. You’ve brought back memories, Phyllis. Some not so great and some good ones, too. I, for one, love the title of your blog with big hair — how I LOVE big hair, much to the Beverly Hills hairdresser’s dismay. 🙂

  5. Interesting blog, Miss Phyliss! I hadn’t thought about mums in years. While I didn’t get to wear them in high school (I was so envious of the ones who were fortunate) my two girls did. I made them because we didn’t have the money to buy ready-made ones and I have to say they looked pretty darn good. It’s surprising what a little hot glue, a mum, and pretty streamers can do. I think I ended up throwing them away after my girls married. They didn’t want to save them so I didn’t see why I should. Now, I’m wishing I had them for my granddaughters.

    See you tomorrow. Looking forward to hopefully having lunch.

  6. Hi Karen, if I recall you have McMurry kids (or you are an alum) and I don’t recall Kathy having a mum from there, or they would have been in her treasure box of mums. She was homecoming queen, so I’d think if she’d had one, it’d be in the picture. I know our first freshman high schooler, who is now a senior (Yikes), was uncertain about whether to get a garter for her date but did. My oldest grandson goofed up. Freshman year is a learning year, unless you have someone ahead of you to give you direction! I’m sorry about the rain ruining homecoming, but I think you all need rain as much as we do. We’ve had three days of good rain, so we’re nice and wet for now. Just hope it holds. Thanks for stopping by and you’ll figure out the homecoming thing!
    :-)!!! Hugs, P

  7. All new to me, Phyliss. I went to a small rural high school where we didn’t do much of anything that cost money (although a wrist corsage for prom was a big deal). We didn’t do mums where I went to college but what a great keepsake to pass down in the family. Linda, love the idea of you making your own.
    Big hair? You bet I remember that–all the teasing.

  8. Cheryl, I totally agree about the strapless dresses. The girls here can’t wear anything to school functions that isn’t at least three or four fingers wide on the shoulders, but they just put a short jacket over the dress. When I was looking for pix for this blog, I found several where the corsage pulled the girl’s top down so far that I would have had to say my blog was x-rated! Seriously, I totally agree with you. When I was growing up in pre historical times, we wore strapless only to prom and the material was substantial enough to hold up our corsage and not show our “girls”! Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, P

  9. The mums and streamers are new to me. But I think I remember mums, like maybe with some decorative THING glued into the center. It must’ve been before I ever got to wear one but I remember thinking those big balls of petals were so pretty. I loved mums and wanted one. Then I finally got old enough to have them and they were no more. 🙁

  10. This is very interesting, Phyllis. We didn’t have mums or flowers of any kind that I remember. It was more paint your face and wear school colors. 🙂


  11. Margaret, you’re too funny about the tats, but you might be on to something! And, Kay, I still love big hair! My beauty operator told me big hair was coming back into style. In our neck of the woods, we wear wrist corsages to prom and any formal parties, but in my day we wore ones we pinned on your dresses … but then we didn’t dance quite as close as they do today! LOL Fellow Fillies, thanks for dropping by. Hugs, P

  12. Margaret, you’re too funny about the tats, but you might be on to something! And, Kay, I still love big hair! My beauty operator told me big hair was coming back into style. In our neck of the woods, we wear wrist corsages to prom and any formal parties, but in my day we wore ones we pinned on your dresses … but then we didn’t dance quite as close as they do today! Linda, I don’t remember wearing a mum except once. It was plastic! LOL I think I still have it in one of my old boxes of saved “stuff”! See you tomorrow. Already gettin’ hungry! Fellow Fillies, thanks for dropping by. Hugs to all, P

  13. Hi Phyliss, aw, you brought back a wonderful memory of me getting a mum during the Homecoming festivities my soph year in college It was a small college in Nebraska. I’m sure I got one the following years but this was my first. I never heard of mums before here in California. Fun post!

  14. Great post Phyliss and it sure brought back memories of my own daughter’s high school years.
    Homecoming Mums are a big deal here in North Louisiana as well. My first-born still has four of them pinned up on the wall of her old bedroom here at my house and they take up quite a bit of real estate.

  15. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for dropping by Sister Filly. Yes, the teasing is something we’ll never forget. I still do it. LOL The other day, I ran out of hair spray and the place I was shopping had the hair “stuff” so product oriented that I couldn’t find what I usually purchase, but Aqua Net was right in front of me. About a dollar a can, so I picked it up. To my surprise, I like it as much (if not better) than the much more expensive hair spray I’ve been using. So back to Aqua Net I come! LOL Have a great day. Hugs, P

  16. Hi Kirsten, love the painting of the face and wearing of colors, which we do for regular games … especially in collage. I’ve seen the guys shirtless with the school colors painted on their chests. Can you imagine what it takes to get the paint off? LOL Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, P

  17. Enjoyed reading the comments. When I went to school dances, hardly anyone wore flowers since a lot of the boys had very little or no money. When my boys went to Proms, I think I had to shell out big bucks for them to take the girls to a fancy place to eat and for the photos that were taken then. I think they said no one danced-they just went to be seen and have their photos taken and the big thing of the night was going some place fancy to eat. Oh and probably the parties afterwards.

  18. Hi Tanya and Winnie, thanks for dropping by and visiting a while. My oldest daughter and family are moving back to the central coast of California at the end of the school year, so we made my youngest granddaughter (the one in the pix wearing one of her mother’s mums)a mum, since she probably won’t know what they are. Yes, Winnie they do take up a lot of real estate. Kathy had all of hers on a bulletin board in her room and even after she left for collage I couldn’t take them down. Finally, had to but it hurt. LOL Hi Joye, prom is even more expensive here, too. Big dinners, corsages, just the right dress, limo service (for those who can afford it). Glad you all enjoyed a visit down memory lane. Hope you all have a great evening and big hugs, Phyliss

  19. Hi Phyliss,
    Well my in-laws are from Texas and I remember driving past these big beautiful football stadium in a small town. I thought it was a pro stadium or at least a college stadium. Nope, it was the high school stadium. That says it all about football and Texas. We don’t do mums here in California, but the homecoming court does do flower corsages.

  20. Hi Charlene, Glad you stopped by Sister Filly. My oldest granddaughter made sure that my youngest one, who is moving to California, had a homecoming mum this year. She’s probably the only first grader with her own mum, but we seriously do take our football, be it collage or high school serious. My oldest granddaughter is a Football Lady, selected by one of the senior football players to wear his number on game day and decorate his locker for each game using a predetermined theme. Since the boy’s locker room is in use until 9 to 10 at night, the girls have to go into the locker room after all the guys from all the sports events have left and decorate. Can you imagine what would have happened if we’d even gone into the boy’s locker room at any time for any reason when we were growing up? Yikes! Where do your in-law’s live in Texas? Big hugs, P

Comments are closed.