If you aren't from Texas, you may never have had the joyful (?) experience of giving and receiving Homecoming mums. All around Texas, high school football season has one big game, Homecoming, which I'm sure had a lot of meaning when it first started, but now is an excuse for guys and gals to give these away to their significant other:
Yes, teenagers actually wear these. With pride. Traditionally, a guy give his Homecoming date a mum like the one in the picture, and the girl gives him a garter, basically a smaller mum that he can wear on his arm.
Mums are a big business. Silk flowers, trinkets (little plastic tchotchkes hot-glued to the ribbon that say things like "Senior!" or "Go team!"), ribbons, teddy bears, etc. can really add up, especially if you pay people to make the mums for you. Don't believe this is a big business? Read this article from the Houston Chronicle.
My school was a little different, in that you didn't just give/get a mum with your date, everyone exchanged mums. Your big and little sisters on drill team. Your spirit group (don't even ask) picked names out of a hat to make a mum, your best friend, your parents. Junior year I had eight mums--needless to say I jingle jangled all down the hallway of the school.
By senior year, I was a pro. No longer paying craft stores for mums, I turned our dining room into a "Homecoming Sweatshop". The table was littered with hundreds of yards of ribbon, plastic trinkets, silk flowers, cardboard backings, teddy bears, buckets waiting to be painted and filled with candy. For a month leading up to homecoming, I would carve out time from drill team practice, yearbook editing, and, you know, school, and craft away. I have a picture somewhere of the fruits of my labor (and a scar or two on my hand from hot glue burns), but, needless to say, I beat the mum system and managed to make it all for much less than the pros.
Seriously? This is ridiculous. Mine were much more tasteful . . .