The Mexican flag is an object of great national pride. Soldiers from the Mexican army ceremoniously raise an enormous flag each and every morning in the central Zócalo square in Mexico City. The flag is so big it takes over a dozen people to carry it to the flagpole each day.
The Mexican flag consists of three vertical stripes which are red, white, and green. On the central white stripe lies the national crest: an eagle resting upon a cactus with a serpent in one of its talons. The original Mexican flag was officially presented in 1821 and while the flag has changed moderately over time, the current version is almost exactly the same as the one created almost 200 years ago. Interestingly, while some people think that the Mexican flag is simply the Italian tricolor with the Mexican national crest placed upon it, the Mexican flag was actually created before the Italian flag. What´s more, the Mexican flag uses darker shades of green and red and also has different proportions. Finally, the meaning behind the flag makes it very different from the Italian tricolor.
The Mexican flag symbols have a fascinating story behind them. The eagle on the Mexican flag alludes to an important moment in Mexican history and culture that hails back to the time of the Aztecs. Legend has it that the Aztecs were told by one of their Gods, Huitzilopochtli, that they should look on a lake for an eagle sitting upon a cactus and holding a snake in its talon. The vision went on to say that when they saw this, they were to settle and build their Empire around this point. During their migration, the Aztec people spotted this eagle and founded the city of Tenochtitlan, what is now present-day Mexico City.
Thus the central emblem is a reminder for the Mexican people of their Aztec roots.The Mexican flag colors also have historical origins. At the beginning of the 19th century when Mexico was fighting for independence from Spain, a coalition army of Spanish troops and rebels was formed, the Ejercito Trigarante, or Army of the Three Guarantees. Until the end of the war, they fought under a flag that incorporated red, white, and green. Preserving these colors in the flag of today is a way of remembering the struggle for independence as well as reminding the Mexican people of the foundations upon which their country was created.
Since the current flag has remained relatively unchanged since its creation, the history of the Mexican flag up to now is relatively uneventful with the exception of the central image, which has been changed approximately seven times. The flag's proportions have changed only slightly over the years, along with the meaning of the colors. When the flag was first created, the colors stood for the Three Guarantees: Independence, Religion, and Union. Today the colors officially stand for Hope, Union, and the Blood of Heroes.
As for the central seal, the flag used during the Second Mexican Empire contained 5 eagles, one in each corner of the flag and one in the central seal, which also featured a royal crest symbolizing Maxmilian's title of Emperor. The current version of the Mexican flag was adopted in 1968 and contains the national crest on both the sides of the flag.
Today, the Mexican flag is a very important symbol to all Mexicans. There is even a national holiday dedicated to it called Día de la Bandera or Flag Day. Every February 24th, the Mexican people pledge allegiance to the flag and their country. The flag is also protected all year round: special permits are needed to broadcast its image.