San Jacinto Day

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San Jacinto Day

Type of Holiday: Historic
Date of Observation: April 21
Where Celebrated: Texas
Symbols and Customs: Memorial Services, Reenactment


San Jacinto Day is observed as a Texas state holiday in commemoration of the battle to free Texas from Mexico. On April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston led 900 Texan fighters in an attack on the 1,200 Mexican soldiers of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The surprise attack resulted in a battle that lasted only eighteen minutes, with victory for Texas. More than 600 Mexican soldiers were killed, while only nine Texans died in the battle.

The Battle of San Jacinto is regarded by some historians as one of the most significant events in history, with lasting worldwide impact. This battle started a chain of events that would ultimately make the United States a continental force with growing international power. The liberation of Texas from Mexico at San Jacinto eventually resulted in the Mexican-American War. In winning that war, the U.S. permanently annexed almost a million square miles of territory, growing to reach the Pacific coast. This land is now occupied by the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The growth of the U.S. during this era positioned the country to become a leading power in North America.

San Jacinto Day is a historic holiday, one through which people remember significant events in their histories. Often, historic holidays are events that are important for an entire nation and become widely observed. The marking of such anniversaries serves not only to honor the values represented by the person or event commemorated, but also to strengthen and reinforce communal bonds of national, cultural, or ethnic identity. Victorious, joyful, and traumatic events are remembered through historic holidays. The commemorative expression reflects the original event through festive celebrations or the solemn ritual of MEMORIAL SERVICES . A REENACTMENT is a common activity at historical holiday and festival gatherings, seeking to bring the past alive in the present.

In 1936, a monument was dedicated in La Porte, Texas, at the site of the battle, with construction completed in 1939. The octagonal concrete obelisk stands 570 feet high and is topped with a giant Texas star. It is the tallest monument column in the world, and the second tallest monument in the U.S. A museum is housed within the building at the monument's base.


Memorial Services

Memorial services are held on San Jacinto Day in honor of all those who died in the battle. The largest such ceremony is conducted each year at the San Jacinto Battlegrounds. General Houston's battle report is read aloud and a wreath is placed at the base of the San Jacinto Monument.


A reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto is staged each year at the San Jacinto Monument. Related activities focus on living history demonstrations, including replicas of the Texan and Mexican military camps and historical presentations on various aspects of daily life in Texas in 1836.


Haley, James L. Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas. New York: Free Press, 2006. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. Tolbert, Frank X. The Day of San Jacinto. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1959.


Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground
Holiday Symbols and Customs, 4th ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2009

San Jacinto Day

April 21
Fresh from his March 1836 victory at the Battle of the Alamo, General Antonio López de Santa Anna (1795?-1876) of Mexico proceeded eastward until he encountered the Texan army general, Samuel Houston (1793-1863), at a place called San Jacinto, about 22 miles east of the present-day city of Houston. Raising the now familiar cry of "Remember the Alamo!" Houston's 900 soldiers defeated the Mexican force of nearly 1,600 in a battle that lasted only 18 minutes. Santa Anna was taken prisoner and forced to sign a treaty pledging his help in securing independence for Texas, which was annexed by the United States in 1845.
A legal holiday in Texas, San Jacinto Day is celebrated throughout the state but particularly in San Antonio, where the highpoint of the 10-day San Antonio Fiesta is the huge Battle of Flowers parade winding through miles of the city's downtown streets.
Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station D0901
Austin, TX 78712
512-471-1525; fax: 512-471-1551
San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park Complex
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
3523 Hwy. 134
LaPorte, TX 77571
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 300
AnnivHol-2000, p. 65
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 97
DictDays-1988, p. 108
HolSymbols-2009, p. 795
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Other skeleton crew holidays include Texas Independence Day and San Jacinto Day.
San Jacinto Day, a holiday in Texas, commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto.