What’s up with the prom corsage? Where did that tradition come from?
The tradition of prom is believed to have originated somewhere around the year 1895. It was originally meant to be a formal dance for upperclassmen in college but became popular with high school seniors around 1930. The word “prom” is short for promenade and there is a whole lot of tradition behind it, including the origins of the prom corsage, a development that didn’t come until the 1950’s. How did it begin? Here is a short lesson on formal etiquette for those who may not be familiar with the custom of courting:
In ancient times (pre-internet), when a man was interested in a woman he would court her. This custom involved him asking her parent’s permission to call upon the young lady and perhaps attend an event with her under the strict supervision of a parent or appointed chaperone. This may sound a little mature for high school but remember in the old days guys and girls got married a lot younger and the process began when they were high school age.
These courting sessions required that the guy bring flowers and usually a gift of some kind for the parents. These flowers were actually the origin of the prom corsage, although of course they didn’t know that then. When a formal event came along the guy would pull a single flower out of the bouquet and attach it to the dress of his companion. This was the first prom corsage.
In the 1950’s, prom dresses became more of a fashion market and the prom corsage became an item that florists began to carry in their regular stock. High school proms became more and more popular and in the 1980’s a series of movies came out that glorified the prom scene. Prom dresses, prom shoes, prom tuxedos, prom limos, and prom corsages became big business. Today, it is not uncommon for a florist to sell hundreds of prom corsages in a single prom season. With the steady development of internet marketing, the numbers are growing every day. And all of this came about because a guy wanted to give his girl some flowers to show his admiration for her and impress her parents.