Celebrated each year on February 24,Día de la Bandera or “Flag Day” is one of the official national holidays in Mexico and was first established by then-President Lázaro Cárdenas in 1937,but its origins date back more than a century earlier. It was on this day in 1821 that the “Plan of Iguala” or “Plan of the three guarantees,” as it is also known,was adopted by Mexican Generals Vicente Guerrero and Agustín de Iturbide,who successfully helped to build a political and military coalition,which took control in September of that same year and decisively gained independence for Mexico.
“Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821,” writes Christopher Minster,Latin American History Expert for About.com’s Education section. “The army formed after the struggle for independence was known as the Army of the Three Guarantees,and their flag was white,green and red with three yellow stars.”
The flag used today is very similar to this original version,which was inspired by the three principles of the Plan of Iguala: Religion,Independence and Unity,which are represented in the flag’s white,red and green color scheme. Today,the flag still boasts three stripes of equal width in these colors,while an eagle eating a snake perched on a cactus that is growing upon an island in a lake above a garland of green leaves adorns the flag’s center.
“The eagle,snake and cactus refer back to an old Aztec legend,” shares Minster. “According to tradition,the Aztecs were a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico who followed a prophecy to make their home where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus while eating a snake.”
The legend tells of the ancient Aztecs wandering aimlessly until they came to a vast lake in central Mexico,where the eagle was seen in the heart of what would soon become the mighty city of Tenochtitlán – which also happens to be the site of modern-day Mexico City.
“It is said that under Mexico City today are many levels of civilizations,” writes Baja Insider. “For example,many of the Catholic cathedrals created by the Spaniards are actually built on top of invisible pyramids that were built by the Aztec people.”
In Mexico as in the U.S.,it is customary to salute the flag when reciting the pledge of allegiance. When the flag is paraded in Mexico,the arm is held across the chest,palm parallel to the ground. The current flag design was first adopted in September of 1968 and was confirmed by law again on Feb. 24,1984. It is an adaptation of a previous design that was approved in 1916 and included a changed eagle with a profile facing left.
An approximate English translation of Mexico’s pledge of allegiance to its flag follows:
“Flag of Mexico!
Legacy of our heroes
Symbol of unity
And our brothers,
I promise to be always faithful
To the principles of freedom and justice
That make our country
Humane and generous
To which we deliver our existence.“
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