There's no room for dainty chrysanthemums in Texas.

They say that everything is bigger in Texas and that certainly rings true for the homecoming corsages doled out in the state.

When homecoming rolls around in most of the South teenagers may tentatively slip a pink ranunculus, white calla lily, or perfect rose onto the wrist of their date or carefully pin a delicate arrangement on to a sparkling dress. In Texas, though, there’s only one traditional option—a mum. Mums started out as a simple corsage made up of chrysanthemums, the classic flower of fall, with just a flower or two and perhaps a few ribbons. These days, though, they have little to do with the flower of the same name and instead are a Texas tradition that has become a teenage rite of passage and a kind of folk art, too.

Mums are giant accessories, usually made up of some combination of oversized silk flowers, particularly chrysanthemums, spools of ribbons, bells, bows, feathers, trailing boas, sequins, tulle, charms, and sometimes even stuffed animals, photographs, glittery letters, and LED lights all attached to a backing and pinned to the chest.  As Cecilia Valudos, co-owner of C&C’s Floral Events, Homecoming Mums and Supplies outside Dallas told the Wall Street Journal: “Our motto is that your mum can never be too big, just like a diamond.”

Frequently, mums will be made in school colors or with a picture of the school’s mascot to show off some school spirit before the homecoming game. Sometimes teams or clubs or groups of friends may all get matching mums to mark their membership. Traditionally, though, mums are used to display the wearer’s interests, personality, and individuality with favorite colors, favorite interests, and team pride popping up in sparkling, wearable form.

Texas mums are not for shrinking violets—they are frequently the size of dinner plates or cake stand or even a shield, with ribbons and lace trailing to the floor. Sometimes they are so large that they can’t be pinned to the dress, but have to be worn around the neck or with built-in back support. Mums aren’t exclusively for girls, either. Boys wear smaller versions, akin to boutonnieres, on elastic bands on their arms.

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Homecoming Season 🐾

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While many people whip out their glue guns and pore through Pinterest pages to make their own mums, that’s not the only way to get one. Sometimes teams or clubs or parent-teacher organizations will make and sell mums as a fundraiser. High schoolers keep professional mum makers busy in the fall, Kroger sells mums during homecoming season, and some teens have been known to ask their date’s mom for help making a mum.

While mums started in Texas, the tradition has been spreading across the South with mums popping up at homecoming celebrations in Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, and Virginia.