Back in Time: The Tradition of Homecoming

The leaves begin to fall and the air becomes crisp and cool. Leggings, boots, football, and all things pumpkin: hints that fall is officially here. You know what that means: it’s also the start of Homecoming!

But what is the history behind this custom? Universities, colleges, high schools, and towns come together to celebrate Homecoming every year in September or early October. This American tradition has stuck around for over a century.

People in the local area will coordinate events like parades and pep rallies to celebrate the victory of the home team after a tough game against rivals and welcome back alumni and current students. The game is usually football, however, it can be a game of any sport. Some other events that are connected to homecoming are nominating and choosing a Homecoming king or queen, pep rallies, parades, and of course, a dance.

No one is quite sure what school had the first Homecoming. According to Michael Crampton from Active.com, Baylor University, University of Illinois and the University of Missouri are tied for having a “coming home” celebration with similar characteristics to each other.

Crampton also states that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) acknowledges the University of Missouri for the first real Homecoming celebration that took place in 1911. Chester Brewer, the football coach for the University of Missouri at the time, wanted to draw attention to the upcoming game against Kansas that was going to be played in Missouri’s brand new stadium. The coach invited students to “come home” for the game. This was the birth of the tradition of Homecoming.

Since then, high schools have been more involved with the idea of this event than colleges usually are. Allison Price from Angelo State University says that high school Homecomings are full of activities and are more about celebrating school spirit whereas college Homecomings are about welcoming alumni.

From 1911 to today, Homecoming has really changed. Dance moves, dresses, and music are not the same as they were 20 years ago.

Unlike today’s Homecoming, dresses were longer and not as detailed, shiny or fancy. Also, new music and dance moves have changed this festivity over the years because they are always being created and becoming popular.

Even though this celebration has changed over time and will continue to change, there are a few key points that will always stay. Homecoming will always be about celebrating school spirit and making memories and friends that you will remember forever.

This picture of the Homecoming court was taken from James Buchanan’s 1981 Yearbook
This picture was taken from last year’s “Candid” yearbook. You can see how styles have changed.