What Is Homecoming?

What Is Homecoming?

January 31, 2023
By Kimberly Vernon

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Back to school season is here! Do you know what that means? (No, I’m not talking about incredible sales on pencils, notebooks, and other school supplies) It means one of the most exciting events of the school year is just around the corner… Homecoming! High school and college campuses across the country are already getting ready for this year's festivities. From spirit weeks, to parades to the big football game to the coveted homecoming dance, the list of homecoming traditions goes on and on.

So… how exactly did this longstanding and iconic tradition come about? Read more below!

History of Homecoming

Believe it or not, homecoming traditions can actually be traced back to the early 1900s! Many big universities in the south claim to have held the first homecoming, however according to Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit (two obviously credible sources) the first modern homecoming was held at the University of Missouri in 1911. Originally centered around a big football game, the purpose of homecoming quite literally derives from the name itself and this idea of “coming home.” Homecoming serves as an opportunity to bring together current and former students and community members with events like parades, pep rallies, and of course the big game.

Is homecoming just for the football game?

Today, homecoming has evolved to being so much more than just a football game (but trust me, for many schools the game is still a HUGE part). While the homecoming game is an opportunity for many alumni to return to campus and show school spirit, for current students homecoming is essentially a rite of passage in modern society. Traditions surrounding homecoming vary school by school and can also be dependent on what part of the country you live in. We’re here to break down some of the most iconic traditions and events!

When is homecoming usually?

Homecoming is usually held in late September or early October. The specific date depends on your school or university and the athletic season.

What to wear for homecoming?

You should wear a short dress, also known as a cocktail dress, to your homecoming. Homecoming is a semi-formal event, so you don’t have to wear a floor-length dress like prom.

What do guys wear to homecoming?

Guys should wear semi-formal attire to homecoming. This includes a nice button down shirt, jacket or blazer, and possibly a tie.

Where to buy a homecoming dress

Queenly is one of the best places to buy both new and used homecoming dresses. You can shop directly from designers or shop secondhand!

The Homecoming Dance

First things first, we can’t talk about homecoming without talking about the homecoming dance! We’ve all seen it in some of our favorite teen TV shows and movies. It’s the end of homecoming week and all the events have led up to this final celebration! Who will be king and queen? Who’s dancing with who? And our favorite question: what is everyone wearing??

In comparison to prom (which is typically reserved for just upper-classmen) the homecoming dance is a semi-formal event for students of all grades to get dressed up and dance the night away! While at prom it’s common for gals to wear glamorous floor-length gowns, at homecoming many opt for more fun and casual cocktail-style dresses. Still undecided about what outfit you’ll be sporting this year? Well, Queenly’s got you covered on all the latest 2023 Homecoming Trends!

Homecoming Court

In addition to the homecoming dance, the homecoming court and crowing of the homecoming queen and king is another iconic tradition. Contrary to popular belief, homecoming court is not just a popularity contest. The homecoming court is typically composed of members of the senior class, however some schools open it up to lower class men to become homecoming princes or princesses! Many schools require certain academic GPAs, involvement in school activities, along with essays to be submitted in order for students to be nominated for court. After students have been nominated and submitted their required material, then the school will vote on who makes the court and then at the football game, dance, or other school event crown the king and queen!

Homecoming Parade

Maybe football and dances aren’t your thing… Well that’s OK! There are other ways to celebrate homecoming such as with the homecoming parade! The parade is often led by the school's marching band and from there may follow floats created by classes or clubs dawning this year's homecoming theme! If your school has a dance or cheer team, they typically dance down the streets of the parade. Some schools decorate cars, others build floats in truck beds and decorate them with paint or paper flowers. Oftentimes the homecoming court will ride along in fancy cars waving and smiling at community members passing by. All in all the homecoming parade is an incredible opportunity to celebrate with the community while representing whatever grade, group, or club you are in!

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Class Competitions

At some schools Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors have the opportunity to compete head to head in various class competitions during homecoming week. For students who may not be as into sports or band, class competitions like float building, skit nights, poster making, hall decorating, and spirit days are all fun ways to get involved during homecoming! As mentioned earlier, homecoming floats are not only a fun and creative way to show school spirit in the community, but also pose a great competition between classes and see who has the best craftsmanship in building big colorful floats. Skit nights are an exciting opportunity to allow students to perform, dance, and/or lip sync funny skits dawning on this year's theme. Poster making and hall decorating are both opportunities to brighten up the walls in the school and get students pumped for the week's festivities. And lastly, putting new and fun twists on themed spirit days such as Tik Tok Day, County vs Country Club, Decades Day, Pajama Day, or “On Wednesday We Wear Pink” are all ways to open up involvement to all students!

Other fun traditions: Mums, Mascots, and More!

So far, we’ve covered some of the most common homecoming traditions, however the list doesn’t stop there! Here are some other fun, silly, iconic, and out-there traditions practiced throughout the country:

Mums: Ok what the heck is a mum?? Well mums are an incredibly unique homecoming tradition practiced throughout the Lone Star state of Texas! Mums are over-sized and over-the-top corsages, created with long ribbons, silk flowers, bells, charms, buttons, feathers, pictures, and sometimes, stuffed animals and are worn draped around the neck of young ladies and for the gents, a smaller (but still quite decadent) garter version is worn around the arm. While from an outsider perspective, mums may seem like an outrageous tradition, many Texan students love going all out with their mums!

Live Mascots: We’re all familiar with the costume mascots often seen running along the sideline at football games to get the crowd cheering. However, did you know that during homecoming at some college and high school campuses, the schools actually adopt live animal mascots! Whether it’s Texas A&M’s collie, Reveille, or University of Tennessee’s bluetick coonhound, Smokey, bringing a real life furry friend into the picture is fun way to hype up a crowd and lift school school!

Pep Rallies: OK pep rallies are a pretty typical homecoming tradition, but how big and out there they are depends on the school. Usually university campuses have bigger pep rallies for their students and public, with numerous performances and appearances. These events are an incredible way to rally up the crowd and promote even more school spirit during this exciting week!

All in all, Homecoming truly is an All-American classic! What homecoming traditions does your school practice? Whether it’s making memories at your first high school dance, cheering on your home team for a big win, or crafting up parade floats or mums, we hope everyone has a great time heading back to school and celebrating the beginning of the year!


How to ask someone to homecoming?
You should ask someone to homecoming in a unique and memorable way. You can make a personalized sign, choreograph a dance with friends, or include gifts such as stuffed animals, balloons, and flowers.
Can freshman go to homecoming? Is homecoming for all grades?
Yes! Traditionally all grades go to homecoming, including freshman. However, the rules can differ between schools, so be sure to check with your specific guidelines.

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