¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
The Flag, the Emblem and the National Anthem are the symbols of the nation and they date from the period of Independence, that is to say, when Mexico emerged as a new free and sovereign State.
The design of the national emblem is based on the one depicted by the Mexica when they discovered the land on which they founded Tenochtitlán. Legend has it that they traveled from Aztlán, currently Nayarit, seeking the sign that Huitzilopochtli (the Aztec God of War) had given them to establish and found their Empire. The sign was "an eagle perched on a nopal cactus and tearing apart a serpent". After a long journey, they found the sign in the Valley of Mexico, on the shores of Lake Anáhuac, on an islet.
The national emblem reproduces the sign of Huitzilopochtli: the eagle, in left profile, erect and perched on a nopal cactus, resting on its left foot and holding a rattlesnake -- which represented the renovation of life to the indigenous peoples-- in its right foot and its beak. A nopal cactus emerges from the islet with red tunas (cactus fruits), which represented the human heart to the Aztecs.
The emblem not only includes pre-Hispanic codices, the lower part contains two garlands: on the left is oak, and on the right, laurel. They are joined by a three-colored ribbon.
The use of banners dates back to ancient Mexico. There is evidence that the Aztecs, as well as the Tlaxcaltecans and the Tepenecas, used banners with various symbols to identify them with their governor or state.
During the Colonial Period (1521 - 1821), the Spaniards used their own pennants and standards, but there was no national flag. Both in Spain and in the territories it ruled, the emblem of the monarchs was used as a flag.
In launching the Independence movement on September 15th, 1810, Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla adopted the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe from the sanctuary at Atotonilco as the insurgent army’s flag.
When Agustín de Iturbide was sent by Viceroy Apodaca to put down the rebel Vicente Guerrero, he proposed rather that they join forces to fight for the independence of Mexico. Iturbide convinced Guerrero to back his Iguala Plan, published on February 24th, 1821, and declaring Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy. The plan made all of the people -- Spaniards, Creoles, Indians and Mestizos-- citizens to be known simply as Mexicans. Iturbide was the first to use a red, green and white flag, which is why we celebrate Flag Day every year on February 24th. His flag included stars and an imperial crown; insurgent leaders Negrete, Nicolás Bravo, Guadalupe Victoria, Santa Anna and many others rallied to it, and the Viceroy was forced to resign.
The colors were used in various orders until the Provisional Government Junta decreed, in November of 1821, that the flag should be green, white and red with the eagle standing on a nopal, but wearing a crown.
On April 14th, 1823, when Mexico became a Republic, the three-colored flag was officially adopted. The flag, according to the Constitution, should have three vertical bands, each one a different color: the one closest to the flagpole should be green, the middle one white and the one on the other end red. The colors represent: green for the laurels of victory and for hope, white for the purity of our ideals, and red for the blood our heroes shed for the independence. In the middle band would be found an eagle of Mexican origin, without a crown, which would be standing on a nopal cactus growing on a rocky outcrop surrounded by water. The eagle should be standing on its left leg, and hold a snake in its right claw as if about to tear it apart with its beak. In addition, it should be surrounded by Republican symbols; oak and laurel branches tied with a three-colored ribbon.
Since then, the position of the eagle has varied several times.
During Maximilian’s Empire, a flag was adopted with the eagle underneath the Imperial French Crown.
Porfirio Díaz ordered the eagle to be facing forward with its wings outspread.
Venustiano Carranza decreed that the eagle should be in left profile and bear the characteristics noted by the Mexica when they discovered the place where they were to found Tenochtitlán.
Some presidents have modified the position of the eagle, but, generally speaking, the national emblem as designed during Venustiano Carranza’s administration has been respected.
Frida Kahlo, artist
Ricardo Montalban, actor/dancer
Delores del Rio, actress
Gael Garcia Bernal, actor
Diego Rivera, artist (Frida Kahlo's husband)
Colombian author who also lives in Mexico (splits his time between both), Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Argentinian guerilla/chemist/medico/writer/Cuban leader but wow he's interesting, Che Guevara
(ever seen THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES? go get the book and see who it's about/written by *wink*)