Monday marks Independence Day in the Lone Star State, commemorating the day nearly 180 years ago when Texas declared itself free from Mexico. On March 2, 1836, as the Battle of the Alamo raged, the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed by a convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and the state has been known for its fiercely proud independent spirit ever since.

Texas Independence Day is a state holiday, but you don't have to be Texan -- or even in the state -- to celebrate. Monday's perks in Texas, which held parades over the weekend, include free beer and events throughout the state that will continue during the month, such as an Independence Day Cake Showdown. New York City has at least one concert (on Saturday) and special events, including one involving mechanical bull-riding. 

Wherever you live, there's always the option of throwing your own Happy Birthday Texas party. Ask guests to come dressed as cowboys or one of the state's recent governors. Set up a table of Tex-Mex snacks, grill if you can, and play music by iconic Texas musicians such as Dixie Chicks and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Or, if you prefer to host a smaller gathering (and want to avoid spending lots on takeout from Chipotle), try these recipes for a celebratory Texan brunch or dinner, including queso fundido and smoked brisket.


After declaring its independence, the Republic of Texas was a sovereign nation and remained that way until Texas became the 28th state of the United States on Dec. 29, 1845. Its independent streak remains alive and well, as evidenced by the slogan "Don't mess with Texas" and the fact that the state has threatened over the years to secede from the country. In 2012, more than 125,000 people signed a petition for Texas to withdraw from the United States and create its own government.