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The Meaning Behind the Mexican Flag

Mexico first adopted its own flag in 1821, the year it became a sovereign nation and secured its independence from Spain. However, that design isn’t the original. Instead, the current version was adopted in 1968, though it wasn’t formally declared as the official flag until far later.

Additionally, Mexico had many unofficial flags before gaining independence. For example, a Standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe – while never formally adopted as an official flag – is often considered by historians to be the first flag of Mexico. Essentially, it served as a symbol during the Mexican War, representing the rebel army and the desire for sovereignty.

Some imagery from different standards during that period did make its way into the current Mexican flag. There are also symbols based on Aztec lore and representations of various concepts. Here’s a closer look at the Mexican flag, including its development and the meaning behind the current flag of Mexico.

 

The Development of the Flag of Mexico

During the fight for independence, Mexico didn’t have an official flag. Instead, a variety of standards were regularly used by those seeking freedom. Variations included images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In some standards, the Virgin was accompanied by a picture of a crowned eagle perched on a cactus.

The eagle and cactus later made their way onto the current Mexican flag. However, this version of the image didn’t include a snake, while a snake is present in the modern flag. Another flag with some similarities was used by the Revolutionary Army. It featured three vertical stripes, which is the same design as the modern Mexican flag. However, the colors were different, as one stripe was blue.

The modern colors didn’t arrive until later, as they were part of a flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees that was used after achieving independence. However, the colors were arranged in diagonals instead of vertically.

Other flags and standards also shared some familiar imagery. The eagle was used in many designs, sometimes with a crown. The proposition and size of the eagle in the designs varied. In the first iteration of the official Mexican flag, the crown was part of the crest. However, the present version of the coat of arms wasn’t formally established until 1823, and it omitted the crown.

Over time, there were further additions and subtractions, though many of the core elements remained. In the end, a highly distinct flag was created, proudly serving as a symbol of Mexico.

 

The Meaning Behind the Mexican Flag

As with most nation’s flags, the chosen imagery on the Mexican flag is highly symbolic. It features three vertical bands, each in a different color. Additionally, there’s a central image featuring multiple components.

When it comes to the meaning of the colors of the bands, those can vary. Initially, green stood for independence, white represented the Roman Catholic religion, and white symbolized union, collectively representing the “Three Guarantees” of Iguala.

However, the meaning of the bands has shifted over time. For example, green represents hope, white stands for unity, and red symbolizes those who died fighting for independence or other national heroes in a more modern understanding of the colors.

In the center of the flag, there’s a crest. The coat of arms shows an eagle sitting atop a prickly pear cactus with a rattlesnake in its beak. Those images connect to an Aztec legend that said spotting such a scene would serve as a mark for the ideal place to build a city. It’s said that the image was seen, and it led to the development of a city that later became Mexico City.

Below that image is a wreath featuring oak and laurel that’s tied together with the same colors found in the bands. That part of the imagery was added in 1968 before Mexico City hosted the Olympic Games. The wreath is said to stand for victory and honor.

 

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