The Mexican Flag: History, Meaning, Symbolism & More

The history of the Mexican Flag is prosperous and colorful. During the prehispanic period, the Aztecan rule bore images of eagles and panthers. Following the conquest, colonial leaders selected a flag resembling that of Castille, and on August 13, 1530, the Government of Don Alonso de Estrada ordered the first flag parade to commemorate the fall of Tenochtitlan nine years before. The onset of the War of Independence, almost three hundred years later, delivered new ideas, new leaders, and new flags.

Inflaming the revolution, Don Miguel Hidalgo unfold the standard of the Virgen of Guadalupe. During the same attempt, the Generalísimo don Jose María Morelos adopted several different flags, and upon consummation of independence in 1821, they added the Flag of the Three Guarantees. Today’s flag has managed the traditional colors red, white, and green and bears the national shield in the middle.

Mexico has celebrated Flag Day every year since 1937 in a ceremony before the Monument to General don Vicente Guerrero, who was the first military chief to swear faithfulness to the flag in Acatempan on 12 March 1821.

History of Mexican Flag

The Mexican flag proudly and prominently streams over Mexican buildings and squares throughout the country. But do you know what the red, white, and green symbolize? What about the image in the center? Read on to find out why the flag of Mexico looks as it does today and how it advanced over time.

Mexican Flag

Mexican Flag

The first flag of Mexico, which was originally adopted by the father of Mexican Independence, Miguel Hidalgo, was an insignia with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the country’s patroness still today. The country’s first president, Guadalupe Victoria (originally named José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix but transformed his name to portray the victory over the Spaniards in obtaining Mexican independence), carried this flag into battle and changed his name properly after the violation in Oaxaca of 1812.

The colors were taken up by the Army of the Three Guarantees during the War of Independence, which intended to defend Mexican religion, independence, and unity. Mexico’s flag as it is today was adopted in 1968, though a very similar flag had been in use since 1821.

Originally the green displayed independence, white represented religion, and red the union of Americans and Europeans, but during the secularization of the country under President Benito Juarez the meanings of the colors were shaped to represent hope (green), unity (white), and the blood of the national heroes (red).

The Mexican flag contains three vertical tapes in green, white, and red, with the Mexican coat of arms in the mid of the white band. The coat of arms describes a golden eagle perched on a cactus and grasping a snake in its beak and talons. The flag’s proportion is 4:7; although the flag of Italy has the same colors, its proportions are 2:3, and the Mexican flag is separated by the shade of the colors, the symbol in the center, and its prospect ratio.

The Mexican flag, along with the Mexican coat of arms (escudo Nacional) and the Mexican national anthem, is considered one of the sí­mbolos patriots, or patriotic symbols of Mexico, and thus commands huge respect from Mexicans. The modern national flag was adopted on September 16, 1968, and was proved by law on February 24, 1984.

Meaning of Mexican Flag Components

Dimensions: 46″ H x 72″ W
Physical Description: Green, white and red strips.

The Eagle and the Cactus

The symbolism within the Mexican national flag can really be broken into two segments: the colored bands and the central emblem. The central symbol, which is also the Mexican Coat of Arms. The story of the eagle and the cactus comes from the Aztec Empire, the powerful state that controlled out of Tenochtitlán (ancient Mexico City) before the arrival of the Spanish.

Mexican Flag - The Eagle And The Cactus

Mexican Flag – The Eagle And The Cactus

First, get that there was never a single group of people called the Aztecs. That was the name of the empire. The Nahuatl-speaking people controlled this empire was called the Mexica, which is where the name Mexico comes from. According to their own legends, they came from in a mystical homeland called Aztlán.

No one knows for sure where Aztlán was, but many historiographers believe it was somewhere in Northern Mexico or the American Southwest. Regardless, the Mexica were obliged from Aztlán by a tyrannous king and went into exile. Unsure what to do, they prayed to the gods. Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the Sun, gave them a revelation.

They would wander south, across the enormous desert, until they saw an eagle, sitting on a cactus eating a snake. In that spot, the Mexica would start a new life and go on to get a great empire of their own. So, the Mexica set off, making across the desert and up into the mountainous valley of Anahuac. There, they finally saw their sign: an eagle squatted on a cactus, eating a snake. They established there, built Tenochtitlán, and the rest is history.

Colored Strips

The emblem of the eagle and cactus was the official symbol of Tenochtitlán since the city was founded, and later became the national symbol of all Mexico. The colors portray independence (green), the purity of Catholicism (white), and the blood of national heroes (red). That fiction comes much later, during the independence war itself.

Meaning Of The Bands In Mexican Flag

Meaning Of The Bands In Mexican Flag

The Mexican War of Independence began in 1810, but it was an uphill battle. Many of the first chiefs were killed, the revolution petered out, was restored, and was partitioned between multiple armies. One of these armies was that of Vicente Guerrero. Guerrero was a fierce fighter, but the revolution was losing power.

Standing between him and Mexico City was Agustín de Iturbide, a general so fierce he was known as ”el Dragón de Hierro, the Iron-Dragon. In 1820, the royal colonial officials passed new policies meant to pacify the peasant insurgents and end the war.

All this did was alienate the wealthy class, including Iturbide. In a stunning move, he paraded into Guerrero’s camp and turned over all his soldiers to the liberation army. Colonial Mexico’s enormous defender had just become the independence movement’s greatest hero.

Rules of Conduct or Protocol

When the Mexican flag is displayed, Mexicans stand at attention with their right arm placed in a salute over their chests with the hand flat and palm facing downward. In schools, Mexican children are taught to recite the oath to the flag (Juramiento a la Bandera):

¡Bandera de México!
Legado de nuestros héroes,
símbolo de la unidad
de nuestros padres y nuestros hermanos.
Te prometemos ser siempre fieles
a los principios de libertad y de justicia
que hacen de nuestra patria la nación independiente, humana y generosa
a la que entregamos nuestra existencia.

Translated this oath means: 

Flag of Mexico!
Legacy of our heroes,
symbol of the unity
of our parents and our siblings.
We promise to always be loyal
to the principles of liberty and justice
that make our homeland
the independent, humane and generous nation
to which we surrender our existence.

Flag Day

February 24 is Flag Day in Mexico and it is celebrated with national ceremonies honoring the Mexican Flag.

FAQ

Why Is There An Eagle On The Mexican Flag?
The Emblem-shield Symbolizes The Aztec Heritage. According To Legend, The Gods Had Advised The Aztecs That The Place Where They Should Establish Their City Was To Be Identified When They Saw An Eagle, Perched On A Prickly Pear Tree, Devouring A Serpent.
What Animal Is On The Mexican Flag?
They Stride Through The Grass On Long Legs, As They Hunt For Small Animals Of All Kinds. Many Mexicans Honor The Caracara As Their National Symbol, Although A Golden Eagle Actually Appears On The Flag Of Mexico. The Bird Was Sacred To The Aztecs.
Who Made The Mexican Flag?
History And Meaning. The First Flag Of Mexico, Which Was Initially Adopted By The Father Of Mexican Independence, Miguel Hidalgo, Was A Standard With An Image Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe, Who Is The Country’s Patroness Still Today.
Is The Mexican Flag The Most Beautiful?
At The End Of The Count, Mexico’s Flag Won With 901,627 Points, A Margin In Excess Of Half-a-million Points Over Second-placed Peru Who Polled 340,901 Points. Guatemala Was Third With 272,541 Points. Fourth, Fifth And Sixth Place Were Taken By The Dominican Republic, Brasil And Spain, Respectively.
What Is A Mexican Eagle Called?
A Common Subject Of Folklore And Legends Throughout Central And South America, The Crested Caracara Is Sometimes Called The “Mexican Eagle.” Although It Looks Like A Long-legged Hawk The Crested Caracara Is Actually A Falcon.
Why Is The Eagle Eating A Snake On The Mexican Flag?
The Coat Of Arms Has Derived From An Aztec Legend That Their Gods Told Them To Build A City Where They Spot An Eagle On A Nopal Eating A Serpent, Which Is Now Mexico City.
What Does The Mexican National Anthem Mean?
The Lyrics Of The National Anthem, Which Allude To Historical Mexican Military Victories In The Heat Of Battle And Including Cries Of Defending The Homeland, Were Composed By Poet Francisco González Bocanegra After A Federal Contest In 1853.
Why Is The Mexican And Italian Flag The Same?
Due To The Common Arrangement Of The Colours, At First Sight, It Seems That The Only Difference Between The Italian And The Mexican Flag Is Only The Aztec Coat Of Arms Present In The Second; In Reality, The Italian Tricolour Uses Lighter Shades Of Green And Red, And Has Different Proportions Than The Mexican Flag.