Learn About These Unique Cultural Traditions in Texas

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Texas is considered by many to be one of the most culturally-rich states in the US and one of the reasons why it is rich in cultures and traditions is because the state is so big and occupies more land compared to most US states. So, Texas is home to many traditions that can be simple or can be quite peculiar. Here is a list of unique cultural traditions that you can find in Texas.

Texas Barbecue

Lone Star Texas

Texas barbecue is a term used to refer to the different barbecue methods that were developed in Texas. Three of the most known kinds of Texas barbecue are pork ribs, beef brisket, and sausage. Pork ribs, as their names already suggest, are the ribs of a pig that are smoked or grilled and smothered with barbecue sauce. Beef brisket is a cut of meat that is taken from the breast or the lower chest area of a cow. Then, sausage is a type of meat that contains ground meat that is encased inside a casing made from animal intestines.

There are four styles of Texas barbecue that are found in different parts of the state, and these styles are:

  • Central Texas style – the meat of Central Texas style barbecue is rubbed with only black pepper and salt before being cooked over indirect heat using mesquite wood, pecan wood, or post oak wood. The sauce of the barbecue is usually served on the side instead of being smothered all over the surface of the meat.
  • East Texas style – the barbecue of East Texas Style is soft and can often fall off the bone because of how it is slowly cooked for longer periods of time compared to other styles. The East Texas style barbecue is usually cooked using hickory wood and is smothered in a tomato-based sauce that is sweet and slightly sour in flavor.
  • West Texas style – this style of Texas barbecue uses a grill instead of a smoker, so the meat would have grill marks on its surface. The meat is cooked over direct heat using mesquite wood, and the direct heat can typically cook the meat much faster compared to other styles.
  • South Texas style – the barbecue of South Texas style has meat that is marinated in thick sauces that can help add more flavor to the inner sections of the meat. South Texas style is moister than other styles that have drier meat.

Texas Two-Step

One of the most popular dance styles that were invented or popularized in Texas is the Texas two-step, also known as the country two-step and western two-step. This dance style is a traditional Texan dance that is usually performed with country music in a common 4/4-time signature. Although it is unknown when the Texas two-step was developed, it is believed to have been taught by dancers to other dances starting in the early 1980s. During that period, the Texas two-step was known more as the Texas shuffle step or the Foxtrot step.

No Beans in Texas Chili

chili bowl

Chili con carne, also called simply chili, is a very popular dish that originated in Mexico and Texas. This dish is a spicy stew that typically contains chili peppers, chili powder, meat (beef, pork, or chicken), tomatoes, and pinto beans (or kidney beans in some recipes).

While you may already be used to chili that has beans as its primary ingredient, you may find it peculiar that the chili you ordered in a restaurant in Texas or have received from a relative or friend from the said state does not have beans. Having no beans in a chill may be uncommon in other states and in many countries around the world, but in Texas, it is fairly common. Interestingly, chili was made the official dish of Texas in 1977 despite not having the most common or popular recipe.

Highest Speed Limit in the US

While this particular fact is not really connected to the culture of Texas, it is still a tradition that is worth noting since it is only found in the said state. In Texas, the speed limit is 85 mph (miles per hour), which is considered the highest in the United States. [1] In most states, the speed limit is 45 to 70 mph, so 85 is quite a high limit for cars in Texas.

The reason why the speed limit in Texas is very high is that Texas is a big state, so having a speed limit of about 50 mph would just make it difficult for drivers and their passengers to reach one city to another in the state in just a few hours.

Tex-Mex Food

tacos and rice

Tex-Mex is a type of cuisine that came from the culinary traditions of the Tejanos, the residents of Texas who are culturally descended from the Mexican population that occupied and lived in Coahuila (one of the 32 states of Mexico) and Tejas (a province of the defunct New Spain territory from 1690 to 1821 that is now the US state of Texas).

As the name of the cuisine suggests, Tex-Mex has a combination of traditional Texan and Mexican cuisines, and the dishes in this type of cuisine typically contain different kinds of meat, cheese, beans, chili peppers, and spices that are found in Texas and Mexico. The most popular Tex-Mex dish is chili.

Wildflowers in Texas

The wildflowers in Texas are some of the most beautiful that you will find in the world, and it has been a tradition for many families in the state to visit centers or gardens that have wildflowers and take pictures of them. One of the best places to admire and take pictures of wildflowers is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has more than 900 species of plants that are native to Texas and are stored in their garden and natural environment. The center was named after Lady Bird Johnson, who was the first lady of the US from 1963 to 1969 and was the wife of former US President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The State Fair of Texas

Texas flag banners

State fairs are popular in different places in the United States, but one state fair that can be regarded as more popular than most is the State Fair of Texas, which is held in the city of Dallas at the Fair Park, a Dallas landmark that was registered as a National Historical Landmark in 1986.

The State Fair of Texas has been held in Dallas since 1886, although it was canceled during the years of World War I and II. After 1945, the State Fair of Texas was considered the longest-running state fair in the United States until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closing or cancellation of public events in the US and other countries around the world.

College Football Games at the State Fair

Besides the amazing food and fun rides that you can try at the State Fair of Texas, there are also classic college football games that you can watch within the 24 fun days of the fair. The most famous college football game at the fair is the one that is played between the Oklahoma Sooners (University of Oklahoma) and the Texas Longhorns (University of Texas at Austin), and this game is held inside the Cotton Bowl, an outdoor stadium in Fair Park. Another game that you can watch at the Cotton Bowl during the state fair is the State Fair Classic, which is an annual match between Prairie View A&M University and Grambling State University.

Texas Football and Friday Night Lights

Friday night football

A lot of Texans are crazy about football, so it is not surprising if they also follow high school football besides the ones that are played in college and professional leagues. High school football in Texas is commonly played during Fridays at night. [2]

The popularity of high school football in Texas inspired the publication of a non-fiction book titled “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream” in 1990. The book, which was written by journalist H.G. Bissinger, details the story of the Permian High School Panthers football team from Odessa, Texas, and their infamous run for the state championship in 1988.

The book would then inspire the creation of the 2004 sports drama film of the same name that was directed by Peter Berg, who is known today for directing Lone Survivor (2016), Patriots Day (2016), and Mile 22 (2018). The film would then inspire the production of a television series of the same name in 2006 that was aired on NBC (National Broadcasting Company).

Cowboy Boots

pairs of cowboy boots

Despite the United States being technologically advanced to make ranching easier for many farmers and herders, the cowboy culture that has cattle herders on horseback is still very much alive in different parts of Texas. The most known piece of gear that cowboys usually wear while herding cattle in Texas is the cowboy boots, which are high-cut boots that are made of leather and are rigid and tough enough to protect the feet of a person from wounds and injuries.

The leather used for cowboy boots is usually cowhide leather, although there are some exotic and expensive cowboy boots that are made from the skin of alligators, snakes, lizards, ostriches, stingrays, and buffaloes. Because of how popular cowboy boots are, they are even worn by those that are not even cowboys at all, as cowboy boots are quite stylish and could elevate the appearance of certain outfits.

These are just some of the unique and popular traditions that you will find in Texas. If you are ever planning to visit the Lone Star State, make sure that you try out everything that we have mentioned above so that you will have an almost complete package in experiencing the culture of Texas.

References

[1] Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool. (2022, November 10). Fun Texas Facts and Traditions. Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://blog.tmlirp.org/fun-texas-facts-and-traditions

[2] Lawrence, K. (2015, December 10). Here Are 13 Crazy Traditions You’ll Totally Get If You’re From Texas. Only In Your State. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/texas/crazy-traditions-tx/

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