What Do The Colors Of The Mexican Flag Mean?

By Amber Pariona on April 25 2017 in Society

The tricolored flag of Mexico

History Of The Mexican Flag

Traditionally, different communities throughout Mexico used flags to represent their people and cultures. One legend suggests that some of the first flags displayed were by the Aztec culture whose principal god had told them to build a new city where they found an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its mouth. This image went on to become central to several versions of the Mexican flag, including the current one.

The practice of a different flag for different communities continued well into the War of Independence. During this war, each militia carried its flag, many of which displayed the Catholic image of the Virgin Mary. One of these rebel flags depicted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and became famous after the Battle of the Grito de Dolores in September of 1810. Another held the Virgin Mary and the image of a crowned eagle sitting atop a cactus. The Revolutionary Army utilized red, white, and blue vertical stripes.

Evolution Of The Official Flag

The first official flag was declared in 1821, which was the first year that Mexican sovereignty was recognized. This flag utilized green, white, and red vertical stripes and the symbol of an eagle wearing a crown. The crown was meant to represent the then-Empire. The Empire was abolished, and the country became a federal republic in 1823. In this year, the second official flag was established. In this version, the vertical stripes were maintained, the eagle no longer wore a crown, and a serpent was shown in its right talon. It also added an oak and laurel branch.

The first republic was dissolved in 1864 and the third official flag, representing the Second Mexican Empire, was declared. This flag used the same color scheme, but instead of the central image of an eagle, it displayed a crowned eagle in each corner. The country underwent several other changes in government and to the flag, but always maintained the same basic overall appearance and inclusion of the eagle.

Current Official Mexican Flag

The current official flag of Mexico was established on September 16, 1968, although, it was not legally confirmed until 1984. In this version, the same red, white, and green vertical stripes are seen. In the center of the middle white stripe is the Coat of Arms, a left-facing eagle. The eagle is perched atop a cactus and has a snake in its beak. Forming a half circle at the bottom are the traditional oak and laurel branches.

What Do the Colors Of The Flag Mean?

Originally, the colors of the Mexican flag held different meanings than today. The green stripe was said to represent Mexico’s independence from Spain. The color red indicated the union between the Americas and Europe, as the elite class still identified with its European roots. The white color was established to symbolize the purity of the Catholic religion.

Today, the meaning behind the colors has changed. Green represents hope, white symbolizes purity and red stands for the blood of the heroes who fought for independence.

Flag Etiquette

As with most national flags, the Mexican flag has a specific etiquette and protocol for being in its presence. When used at large gatherings, military individuals in uniform must salute the flag. Civilians cover their heart with their right hand, palm facing the ground, to show respect. Anytime the national anthem is played or sung, the flag should also be displayed. On national holidays and significant dates, both civilians and the government fly the flag. When Mexico participates in the Olympics, the president gives the flag bearer a flag to be carried to the host city. Mexico has celebrated Flag Day on February 24 since 1937.

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