The Fascinating Origin and History of Flag Day in Mexico
Did you know that in Mexico they have a designated holiday known as Flag Day? It’s true, just like in the U.S., Mexicans have a special day to celebrate their flag.
Mexican culture and history is a fascinating subject, and today I’ll show you a little piece of it. Keep reading to learn everything about Mexico’s Flag Day, its origins, historical meaning, and symbolism.
You’ll also learn some Spanish vocabulary about national symbols and Mexican patriotism. Are you ready for a journey into the past of one of the most intriguing countries in the world?
What Is Mexico’s Flag Day?
Every year on February 24th, Mexican people celebrate their national flag day. Throughout the country, schools organize special events and students honor the flag with songs, poetry competitions, drawings, and sometimes even with Mexican soldiers who take time from their military responsibilities to visit schools and participate in these special events.
Although Mexico’s Día de la Bandera (Flag Day) is supposed to be about the flag (duh!), it’s actually an opportunity for Mexicans to showcase their patriotism,and feel proud about their nation.
Origins of Flag Day in Mexico
The idea of designating a special day to celebrate the flag didn’t come up from the Mexican government originally. It was Benito Ramirez, an employee of the Bank of Mexico, who came up with the idea to celebrate the flag in 1935.
The idea quickly caught on, and by 1940, Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas declared that February 24th would become the official holiday known as el Día de la Bandera.
Why February 24th? I’m glad you asked, as even Mexican kids who celebrate this day every year have no idea about the reason for this date.
On February 24, 1821, Vicente Guerrero and Agustin de Iturbide signed the Iguala Plan that essentially ended the Mexican War of Independence.
For Mexicans, their flag is an important symbol of who they are. Their relationship with it is one of respect, pride, and admiration. They take it seriously when someone disrespects it or uses it in the wrong way. For instance, there have been episodes where the flag’s position in an important event isn’t the right one, and it becomes a big issue in the national conversation.
The point is that the Mexican flag is filled with symbols and you can trace a big chunk of Mexican history in those symbols.
To start with, the Mexican Army that triumphantly entered Mexico City in August 1821 was called the Army of the Three Guarantees. Those three guarantees are symbolized by the three colors in the flag and they were “union,” “independence,” and (Catholic) “religion.” The Army of the Three Guarantees won Mexico’s War of Independence.
What is the Relationship Between Mexicans and their National Symbols?
As I said before, Mexicans take their national symbols seriously, which include the flag, coat of arms, and national anthem. Mexicans follow a protocol when one of these symbols is displayed, and there’s even a law that expressly explains how they should be used.
The honoree every February 24th, the Mexican flag was created during the War of Independence from 1810 to 1821. It is green, white, and red. Each color has its own meaning, and the story behind the coat of arms deserves its own section.
Originally, the green bar in the Mexican flag stood for independence. During the secularization efforts of President Benito Juarez in the19th century, the meaning of green changed to hope.
When it was adopted, the white in the Mexican flag meant the Catholic religion, which at the time was a crucial part of Mexico’s identity. Nowadays, the white stands for unity.
During the War of Independence, the red in the flag symbolized the union of all Mexican people. After the rebranding of the colors, red came to symbolize something easier to recognize: the blood of the Mexican heroes who gave their life for the country.
The Coat of Arms
The Mexican emblem or coat of arms depicts an eagle holding a snake in its beak. What’s more, the eagle is standing on top of a nopal, which is a characteristic Mexican cactus.
The Fascinating Aztec Story Behind the Mexican National Coat of Arms
Centuries before the idea of Mexico was even created, a group of indigenous people from the north usually identified as “Chichimeca” started a long journey south looking for the land promised by their god, Huitzilopochtli.
The legend says that this god of war told his people to look for an eagle devouring a snake on top of a nopal. When they found this strange combination of natural elements, they had to settle down and build a new city. To add dramatism to the story, these Chichimecas from the North, now known as Aztecs, found this image on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.
The Aztecs didn’t care about the little detail of this being an island, and they founded their new city right there—Tenochtitlan, which is known today as Mexico City.
The National Anthem
The third of the Mexican national symbols is their national anthem. It was the winner in a competition against 25 other proposals and was declared Mexico’s National Anthem in 1854. The author of the lyrics was poet Jaime Nunó, while the music was composed by Francisco González Bocanegra.
Mexican Flag Day Vocabulary
Learning about the Mexican Flag Day is an excellent opportunity to learn a little bit of Spanish vocabulary about Mexican patriotism and their national symbols.
Día de la Bandera – Flag Day
Escudo de Armas – Coat of Arms
Honores a la bandera – flag ceremony
Verde – green
Blanco – white
Rojo – red
El águila – eagle
La serpiente – snake
El nopal – nopal (a type of cactus plant)
Independencia – independence
Unión – unity
La religión – religion
El himno nacional – national anthem
Learn More About Mexican Culture
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