On 2 March 1836, 59 settlers in Mexican Texas gathered together at Washington-on-the-Brazos to sign a declaration officially breaking off from Mexico and creating the Republic of Texas. For non-Texans this event probably means absolutely nothing, but for native Texans and transplants alike this event marks a state-wide holiday that is celebrated, or at least acknowledged, by many across the state.
That historic event in 1836 was followed by the better-known bloodshed at the battle of the Alamo, and then the decisive battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston’s Texans finally defeated Santa Anna’s Mexican army in a fight that lasted only 18 minutes. Subsequently, for a wondrous nine years and 11 months, the Republic of Texas stood as an independent sovereign nation with five presidents and seven different capitals at one time or another. But all good things must come to an end, and on 29 December 1845 the United States of America annexed our glorious Republic. True to the independent Texan spirit, very few Texans could probably name the day that we gained statehood, but the day Texans gained independence from Mexico is widely known and celebrated. I should clarify that I’m not advocating for modern Texas independence and I do believe that joining the Union was overall a good thing for our state (I’m looking at you, Scotland). As a whole, Texans are just very fond of our own history and independent spirit, and 2 March is the perfect day to remember this.
Despite being an official holiday in the state of Texas, oddly enough I have never really celebrated Texas Independence Day outside of Scotland. I was always aware of the day and would probably mention it in conversation or have chilli (our state food) for dinner, but I never really had a full blown celebration until I moved here. Moving away from my home state definitely made me more proud of its history and more willing to celebrate its culture. Celebrations in my first year consisted of my academic mother (a fellow Texan and Houstonian) gathering up the academic family and any stray Texans she knew in a night that culminated in a pub crawl throughout town. Since, believe it or not, it is pretty difficult to find a good Texas beer in Scotland, the night mainly consisted of trying the various tequila offerings at a few choice locations. Despite this being a celebration of our independence from Mexico, we Texans do tend to appropriate a lot of Mexican culture into our Texan culture – hence the tequila.
I spoke to a few Texan friends about their plans for the evening, and the response was mixed. Sam Cukr, a first year from Dallas, said: “I have never celebrated Texas Independence Day. Does that work?” Not exactly the response I was expecting, but I guess Texan-pride varies among the state’s natives. I then spoke to Maggie Goessler, a second year also from Dallas, and she had a much more positive message: “I never celebrated it until I came here but it’s one of my favourite days now! You can take me out of Texas but you can never take Texas out of me!” As far as the actual celebration goes, she plans on bring Texas to Scotland with two stepping, line dancing, country music and margaritas. The timely opening of new Tex-Mex restaurant Mexigo also makes preparing food offerings a bit easier, but I’ll try to make some authentic chilli con carne as well as the official Texas state snack: tortilla chips and salsa.
Overall, I’m really excited for the opportunity to introduce my non-Texan friends and flatmates to our state traditions. Living in Scotland has increased my appreciation for my state’s culture and encouraged me to take the time to really celebrate Texas’ day of independence.