Homecoming Through the Years

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Students at the University of Texas celebrate their homecoming game win! University of Texas at Arlington (U.T.A) homecoming football game, University of Texas at Arlington News service photograph collection, https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery/img/10011009, CC by 4.0.

Bella Mendez, Reporter

Homecoming season is approaching fast, which means we are going to start to experience all of the traditions that make homecoming so memorable, like the football game, spirit week, and the pep assembly. However, while we cherish these traditions (and believe that they are somewhat original), it turns out that they have been adapted and copied for decades. 

How did homecoming start? 

The original intent of homecoming was to be a celebration for the first college football game of the season. This specific game allowed alumni to return “home” to their old university to partake in some of the traditions and see some of their old peers. It has been assumed that one of the first universities to participate in a homecoming football game were rivals University of Missouri and the University of Wisconsin in 1914. In the end, football games are the root of homecoming and without it, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to create homecoming into what it is today.

How has homecoming adapted through the decades?

Some of the traditions that we still value today became more apparent in the 1950s. To explain, in colleges like the University of Illinois, they initiated the start of the homecoming festivities by crowning the homecoming queen and the rest of the homecoming court. Then came the football game, in which the audience, filled with students and alumni, participated in memorable traditions during halftime. For alums at the University of Illinois, they got the opportunity to go onto the football field and spell “EK ” and  “Dab”. After the alumnis participation in the activities, current students would get introduced to the prom queen and the big 10 for that year, and as they approached, the marching band would perform. 

While many of these traditions from the 1950s have stayed alive in many high schools, in the 2000s, they have continued to become more elaborate. For instance, in 2010, Los Altos high school started allowing students in clubs and sports to decorate doors during homecoming week. The door decorating would have to follow the theme of the dance, and whoever got voted for having the best door (or float) , they would receive prizes. Plus, for the whole week leading up to homecoming, students would  participate in spirit days and activities, ultimately bringing school spirit among the whole campus leading up to the dance. 

As we view how homecoming has been adapted from 1914-2021, it becomes clear that these traditions were a gradual process. Without that college football game about 107 years ago, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to elaborate on the idea of homecoming. Now,  as we think about spirit week, pep rallys, homecoming proposals, etc, it will be apparent how far this event has come.