Mexican flag: 12 flags were used by the Insurgent Army during the 10 years

Every February 24, Mexico celebrates Flag Day, a tradition that dates back several decades. Learn here some curiosities about the Mexican flag in its day

Mexican flag: 12 flags were used by the Insurgent Army during the 10 years
History and Meaning of the Mexican Flag. Image: Wikimedia

At least a dozen flags were used by the Insurgent Army during the ten years of the armed movement for the Independence of Mexico, a time during which each flag gave an account of the development, victories, and defeats of the independence cause.

During the armed movement, carrying a flag was essential because it synthesized the cause and encouraged the people to join. Before the War of Independence, the flags represented the king and not a country. At that time there were also banners with which processions were made through the streets, and that through religious symbols showed what was understood by the nation: belonging to an ethnic group.

The process of shaping the symbol of the national flag

A dozen flags used during the War of Independence -that have been physically found- are embodied the imaginary values and beliefs of the society that supported and joined the cause. The groups that led the movement were defined in terms of certain objectives that had an ideological underpinning and, based on this, they defined the colors, emblems, and symbols that their flags should carry.

For example, the first flag or banner that led to the Beginning of the Independence Struggle in 1810 was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was intended to tell the people that the Virgin supported the movement. The flag is fundamentally a symbol of identity, that is to say, in it are synthesized principles, objectives, doctrine, motives, and expressions of the identity of the people.

A few months later, the flags carried by the insurgents were mostly royal blue, representing the Catholic religion, honor, and virtue, and in the center, as a shield, they had the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the golden eagle, but without the snake. Two years later, the flags adopted American symbols such as arrows and bows, and the Virgin no longer appeared.

The insignia were sometimes embroidered and sometimes painted, and it was theologians or clergymen, as well as lawyers, who designed them and explained their symbolism. Having a flag during the war was fundamental because it represented a new identity, a motive for struggle, and a symbol of union, while at the same time it served to distinguish them from their adversaries.

It was the Ejército Trigarante, led by Agustín de Iturbide, in 1821, who first used the colors white, green, and red, to represent the Church, Independence, and union, respectively.

In 1823 the Constituent Congress decreed the characteristics of the current flag. It is not known who designed it, but it is known that it was the Mexican engraver, Francisco Guerrero, who was commissioned to make the national coat of arms. In this precept, it was not specified who or where the flag should be manufactured, but it is very likely that it corresponded to the Army, because it was the Army who could only use the flag, not like now that everyone can have one at home.

Facts about the Mexican flag

Its origins

The creation of the Mexican flag dates back to 1821, when the then Emperor of Mexico Agustín de Iturbide entrusted the mission to the tailor José Magdaleno Ocampo in Iguala, Guerrero. The tailor created the first tricolor flag composed of red, green, and white stripes. This first version had a star in each strip and in the center a decorated imperial Lorna and in the background the words Religion, Independence, and Union, so it was called the flag of the three guarantees.

The redesign

Although the flag has undergone transformations, it maintains its basic characteristics since 1822, the year the flag was adopted: the three stripes, the colors, and the shield in the center of the flag.

The current design was established on September 16, 1968: and consists of the three colors and the shield of Mexico in the center. The shield features a golden eagle, a snake, a cactus, as well as several snails, an olive tree, and the oak tree. This is inspired by the legend of the foundation of Mexico, in which the god Huitzilopochtli gave the ancient Mexicans the signs of the exact place where they would erect the great Tenochtitlan: where they would see an eagle standing on a nopal cactus emerges from Tlaltecuhtli, the Earth, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, current Mexico City.

Mexican Flag

The Day of the Flag

Flag Day in Mexico has been celebrated every February 24th since 1940, when President Lazaro Cardenas (1943-1940) established that date for that purpose. But not only is it honored on that day. Institutions are also required to do so on September 15 and 16, as well as November 20.

When and how it is raised

The national flag is raised at full mast on days such as the anniversaries of the promulgation of the Constitutions of 1857 and 1917; the Victory over the French army in Puebla in 1862; the Taking of Queretaro by the Forces of the Republic in 1867; the cry, the beginning and the consummation of Independence, respectively; the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910; and the expropriation of the oil industry in 1938.

It must also be raised at all times during the opening and closing of the Congress of the Union, the day of the Mexican Army, Labor Day, Navy Day, Race Day, as well as the birthdays of Mexican heroes. It is raised at half-mast to commemorate the death of a national hero or heroic deeds in which Mexicans have given their lives for the country, such as the death of the last Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc; the leader of the Mexican Revolution, Emiliano Zapata; the Children Heroes of Chapultepec, among other events of great importance for the country.

This is how the national flag is handled

The national flag has special handling both to present it and to protect it. For example, institutions receive it through a civil flag ceremony and when it has already deteriorated it is destroyed in a civic incineration ceremony. In addition, in the General Archive of the Nation and in the National Museum of History there is a model of the flag that is authenticated by the three powers of the Union.