Southern Stories
The Giant Corsage Tradition in Texas
Aug 29/16

The Giant Corsage Tradition in Texas Posted by: Rod Ford | 5 Comments


Growing up in northern Louisiana, homecoming meant a football game, kings and queens, a dance and a giant corsage. I’ve never heard corsages called “mums” but it’s essentially the same thing. This Jezebel story highlights one photographer’s documentation of this big, showy tradition. 

Turns out these are a Texas tradition that I guess seeped over to Louisiana. I never thought twice about it, honestly. I figured it was something everyone did. But in case you’re unfamiliar with them, these corsages are often heavy and ornate. They’re pinned on in painfully awkward fashion by your date to the dance — or by your own parents if you’re having the worst day of your life. The corsages are typically made with school colors — in my case red and white — and may or may not feature fresh flowers. Cheap, plastic little trinkets hang among the ribbons, sometimes a reflection of a student’s school activities or maybe just random things like a football or a megaphone.

According to the Jezebel story, photographer Nancy Newberry calls these corsages, “Artificial, shiny and virtually unknown outside of Texas.” She thought the subject’s environment was an essential part of the photographical process. 

She started her portrait series in 2007 and has been working on it intermittently ever since. “I started a bit blind, but determined,” she wrote in an email to Jezebel. “It takes a long time to get these pictures and finding my subjects is a lengthy part of the process. It takes a lot of trust to open your home to a stranger. There may be easier ways to approach the subject, but photographically the environments are an important part of the work.”

When I was growing up, the corsages weren’t typically worn by boys, but it looks like that has changed over the past decade. Were corsages a tradition in your part of the world? Or do you consider this thing kind of weird?



Ronda on October 02 2016 at 09:14PM

Growing up in Houston & attending high school in the early 80’s, mums were a very big thing! At that time they were given to you by your date/boyfriend, not your parents. I never had a bf at homecoming. But as luck would have it, my senior year, one of my friends, who was & still is like a brother to me, gave me a mum! Thank you Dev! AND I was asked by my 1st grade bf, yeah yeah haha, to his all-boy school homecoming! As tradition had it, we would wear our mums to school the following Monday, and Oh Yes I Did! Even though his school was my school’s rival, I wore that mum on Monday with PRIDE!
Now I live in Indiana & when my son’s homecoming came around, I got soo excited thinking I was going to make the most gorgeous mum EVER! Unfortunately, Indiana doesn’t know the glory of the Homecoming mum tradition & my son wasn’t willing to be the one to start it.

Kellie Blanchard on September 26 2016 at 07:06PM

I am Texas girl and having a homecoming mum was and is still a big thing! I’d get one from a boy and a small one from my mom and dad!! I loved it!

Georgina on September 18 2016 at 07:16AM

Mums are the type of flower used to make the corsage. It’s a chrysanthemum, mum for short.

Lisa on September 13 2016 at 10:13PM

I too grew up in Northern (northwest) LA. I remember that my goal was to have my homecoming corsage brush the floor. I think I finally got one senior year. But the ones i see in TX that they have to wear around their necks just look weird—guess it’s having a huge flower in the middle of your chest.

Frances (Miller) Menees on September 11 2016 at 05:16AM

Yes! I am a 56 yr old grandmother who grew up in Dallas. They were a BIG thing back when I was in high school in the 70’s. We raised our kids in The Colony, TX & they were a BIG thing there….and now I have 2 young Granddaughters who will someday experience this TX tradition!


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