The Origins of Homecoming

Holly Simpson, ENN Special Contributor

Like most things, homecoming is bigger in Texas, especially mums and garters- corsages decorated with ribbons, bells and trinkets. According to, a website dedicated to Texas entertainment, mums and garters really aren’t done anywhere but Texas and some parts of Oklahoma. While Texas did initiate the trend of these oversized corsages, Homecoming did not originate here.

Although there are three popular thoughts of where the first one happened, the National Collegiate Athletic Association recognizes the University of Missouri’s event as the actual first homecoming.
Chester Brewer, Athletic Director at the University of Missouri, asked alumni to come inaugurate the new location of their football field in 1911. Every year after this, the alumni would come to watch the annual game against the University of Kansas.

Another stake for the first homecoming happened in 1910. Two seniors from the University of Illinois decided to plan a huge event to bolster their school’s spirit. They had a seven-year streak of losing to the Chicago Maroons and wanted to break it by inviting alumni to come show support. Twelve thousand alumni witnessed this game, ending in a 3-0 victory for Illinois.
Texas can also lay claim of the first homecoming. Around the 1940’s, a new tradition began at Baylor University. According to,  “One fraternity was looking to do a fundraiser for their annual fall festival. One of their moms, a florist, agreed to make the boys corsages for their dates, that way they could sell the rest.”

The corsages were made from a chrysanthemum, because they bloom during October and November. The boys would attach a ribbons and trinkets to the back and give them to girls as an invitation to the game and dance. In return, the girls would make smaller, matching versions of their mum, or garters, for boys to wear on their arms.
Since then, mums and garters have evolved into significantly bigger and more elaborate creations. What once cost around $3, now ranges anywhere from $40-$300. While they may be expensive, for some mums hold an even greater sentimental value.