Flag of Mexico: History and Meaning

On the flag of Mexico, green, white and red have the main role, as in the War of Independence.

These are the colors that represented the National Liberation Army during the struggle for emancipation. They were adopted once the country was liberated from the Spanish yoke. Green, white and red are arranged in that order on vertical stripes of the same width. In the center, on the white band, is the national coat of arms – which is one of the three patriotic symbols of Mexico, together with the flag and the national anthem.

The Mexican national flag was adopted on September 16, 1968, along with the national coat of arms. Since 1984, its use has been regulated. This government regulation indicates the tone of the colors that must be used on the flag but no legislation defines the specific colors.

The emblem has changed design over the course of the country’s history but the basic elements are still present. Among these we find the Mexican eagle holding a snake typical of the country in its beak, a cactus (nopal) and a rock on a lake. The design of the emblem is inspired by the legend of Tenochtitlan, the area where Mexico City is located. According to the story, the gods told the Aztecs to found a city where they found an eagle devouring a serpent, perched on a nopal.

During the War of Independence, many different flags were used in the country. One of those that had the most influence bore the image of the Virgin of Guadeloupe. It is considered the first Mexican flag, although it has not been officially recognized.

Among the flags used during the fight for independence, we find a red, white and blue standard, then the flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees, which displayed for the first time the national colors: green, white and red, and coat of arms – but different from those of the current flag. Another version without a coat of arms existed but was discontinued because it looked too much like the flag of Italy.

The Three Guarantees Army flag has had a large number of different versions over the years. All these variations resulted in the first official flag decreed in 1821 and used from the following year. This flag was very similar to the current standard. It was made up of three stripes of the same size and the central coat of arms already contained almost all the elements that can be seen on the current official flag chosen in 1968.

The protocol for the use of the Mexican flag indicates that when it is displayed in front of a crowd, military personnel must salute it. Another rule of use is that it must appear on the screen when the anthem is broadcast by television. There is a tradition: the President of Mexico must give the national flag to the athlete who will carry this flag during the Olympic Games. Flag Day is celebrated in Mexico on February 24. This national holiday was established in 1937.