One of the best parts of back to school is prepping for the first big dance of the year—homecoming. Really, you can start prepping months in advanced for this all-important event because there is so much figure out. And this year, the dance will be even more special because it will be one of the first times for the student body to let loose after months of social distancing.
But as you plan for this year’s homecoming, have you ever stopped to think about what this whole tradition is about? When was the first homecoming and what's the story behind the big game and the quirky traditions like homecoming king and queen? Most importantly, what does homecoming even mean?
Here’s everything you need to know about homecoming…
So...what is it?
Every high school has their own homecoming traditions and depending on where you live and what school you go to, homecoming can mean a lot of different things. It may, quite literally, mean a coming home of sorts, an opportunity for your school’s alumni to visit their old stomping grounds, to see old friends, teachers, and the underclassman they left behind. Expect a lot of recently-graduated seniors to come back for this year's homecoming, considering they didn't get a proper sendoff in the spring because of the coronavirus.
Sometimes, homecoming involves a parade, or a big football game like a match up against your school’s rivals. If you’re not a sports fan, it may be the only football game you’ll go to all year. Often, a homecoming court is crowned, with the highly coveted homecoming king and queen reigning over their kingdom for a year (or maybe until a prom king and queen come along).
But the main event, the piéce de résistance of any school’s homecoming is the dance. You’ve seen it play out in all the best high school dramas: Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, Vampire Diaries. Homecoming is a staple at high schools, no matter how it’s celebrated. In the most traditional format shown in most on-screen portrayals of the event, homecoming resembles a dance much like prom...but more like a baby prom.
How is it different than prom?
In recent years as homecoming has become a bigger event, it has begun to resemble prom more and more. Homecoming proposals have become more elaborate, mimicking the creative signs, cute treasure hunts and yummy treats that now seem to come with every promposal.
First, the obvious difference: The two dances come at different times of the year. While prom often marks the beginning of spring and the end of the school year, homecoming, which often takes place in September or October, doubles as a kind of welcome back to school.
Homecoming is also much more inclusive than prom. At most schools, prom is open only to seniors and sometimes juniors, but homecoming is for all, even the underclassmen, meaning you can start enjoying the festivities as a freshman.
Finally, homecoming can be a lot more casual than prom. While some schools go all out and throw prom at an event space off campus, homecoming is usually held in the school’s gym. Some schools have a more casual dress code for their homecoming dances, where jean shorts and a cute top will suffice, while others require a dress or suit for the occasion. Even then, the dresses are usually short and the suits are more chill, compared to the gowns and tuxes some will rock for their big prom night.
You may even want to opt for a cute two-piece look. Here are some fun mix-and-match homecoming outfits that you'll want to buy ASAP...
What’s the history behind it?
According to Billboard, homecoming is an American tradition. That explains why Britain native Charli XCX was so thrilled to perform at a lucky school’s homecoming dance back in 2014.
Homecoming began at colleges as a celebration for the first football game of the season, where alumni would come back to visit their former campuses. According to Broadly, while no one is positive which college officially started the tradition, the University of Missouri, Baylor University, and the University of Illinois all claim to have began hosting homecoming events in 1911, 1909, and 1910, respectively. No matter who started it, the tradition spread quickly to other colleges and high schools around the country.
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