Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumni of a school. It most commonly refers to a tradition in many universities, colleges and high schools in North America. It usually includes activities for students and alumni, such as sports and culture events and a parade through the streets of the city or town.
Homecoming is an annual tradition of the United States. People, towns, high schools and colleges come together, usually in late September or early October, to welcome back alumni and former residents. It is built around a central event, such as a banquet and, most often, a game of American football, or, on occasion, basketball, ice hockey or soccer. When celebrated by schools, the activities vary widely. However, they usually consist of a football game played on a school’s home football field, activities for students and alumni, a parade featuring the school’s marching band and sports teams, and the coronation of a Homecoming Queen (and at many schools, a Homecoming King). A dance commonly follows the game. When attached to a football game, Homecoming traditionally occurs on the team’s return from the longest road trip of the season.
The Homecoming Dance—usually the culminating event of the week (for high schools)—is a formal or informal event, either at the school or an off-campus location. The venue is decorated, and either a disc jockey or band is hired to play music. In many ways, it is a fall prom. Homecoming dances could be informal as well just like standard school dances. At high schools, the homecoming dances are sometimes held in the high school gymnasium or outside in a large field.(Prom Dress >>)
Since most colleges are too large to facilitate a campus-wide dance, these events are usually handled instead by student organizations such as fraternities, sororities, and residential colleges. Because football and alumni events are the focal points of collegiate homecoming, dances often take place during a different week when schedules are more permitting, or not at all.
The term “homecoming” can also refer to the special services conducted by some religious congregations, particularly by many smaller American Protestant churches, to celebrate church heritage and welcome back former members or pastors. They are often held annually, but are sometimes held as one-time-only events, to celebrate the occasion.
Homecoming should not be confused with prom, as they usually occur at different times of the year. Homecoming usually occurs in the fall, and prom usually occurs in the spring.