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Why is the flag of mexico green?

The flag of Mexico is one of the most recognizable national flags in the world with its striking tricolor design of green, white, and red. The green stripe on the Mexican flag represents hope and victory, but its origins trace back centuries to Mexico’s indigenous roots and the story of Tenochtitlan.

The Legend of Tenochtitlan and the Origins of the Green Stripe

According to Aztec legend, the Aztec people were promised by their god Huitzilopochtli that they should build their capital city at the location where they saw an eagle eating a snake on top of a cactus. This vision came to pass in the 14th century on an island in Lake Texcoco, where the Aztecs founded their capital city Tenochtitlan. This image of an eagle and snake on a cactus came to symbolize the Aztec people and empire.

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century, they fought the Aztecs and conquered their empire. After nearly three years of being besieged, Tenochtitlan fell to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1521. Despite the destruction of their capital, the image of the eagle and snake remained a powerful symbol for the indigenous people.

Centuries later, this legend was invoked when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1810. The green stripe on the new flag of Mexico was meant to evoke the legend of Tenochtitlan and symbolize hope for the future.

The Meaning of the Colors on Mexico’s Flag

Mexico’s flag features three vertical stripes in the colors green, white, and red. Here is what each of these colors represents:

Color Meaning
Green Hope and victory
White Purity of Mexican independence
Red The blood of heroes who fought for freedom

As mentioned, the green stripe is specifically meant to symbolize hope and victory. This references the legend of Tenochtitlan and the Aztec people’s perseverance and vision for the future.

The History of Mexico’s Flag

Mexico’s iconic green, white, and red tricolor flag was first adopted in 1821 during the country’s War of Independence from Spain. The first Mexican flag was actually green, white, and red vertical stripes. There was no official meaning attached to these colors at that time.

In 1823, a new design featuring an eagle and a snake on a cactus was placed in the center of the flag. This paid direct homage to the legend of Tenochtitlan and linked Mexico’s Aztec past to its independence struggle. However, this complex flag was difficult to reproduce and was abandoned within the year.

The current simplified three stripe design was adopted in 1821. It was enshrined in law in the Mexican Constitution of 1917 after the Mexican Revolution, along with the meaning of the colors outlined above.

While Mexico’s flag has remained the same since the 1920s, other symbols of Mexican identity have changed over time. For example, Mexico’s national emblem depicted the eagle and snake legend from 1917 to 1968 before it was replaced with a new coat of arms.

Use of the Color Green in Other Aspects of Mexican Culture

Beyond the flag, the color green is strongly associated with Mexico and features prominently in other symbols of Mexican culture:

  • Sports teams: Mexico’s national soccer team is nicknamed El Tri, referring to the three colors on the flag. Fans wear green jerseys to matches to show their support.
  • Currency: Mexico’s peso banknotes feature green bills as well as red and brown. The 20 peso note is green on both sides.
  • Cuisine: Green colors and flavors are an essential part of Mexican food, such as salsa verde, green enchiladas, green pozole, and cactus leaves.
  • Folk art: Mexican folk art often features bright green colors, such as the trees of life carved by Metapecos woodworkers.
  • Holidays: During Mexican Independence Day on September 16th, people decorate with the green, white, and red colors.

By incorporating green into so many aspects of Mexican culture, it solidifies the symbolic meaning of hope and national pride.


Mexico’s green, white, and red striped flag is full of meaning and history. The green stripe specifically evokes the legend of Tenochtitlan and the Aztec civilization, representing hope and victory for the Mexican people. This link between Mexico’s indigenous past and independence struggle is why the flag resonates so deeply as a national symbol. The iconic green stripe is a source of pride and inspiration that persists across Mexican culture today.

Through using the legend of Tenochtitlan and the symbolic meaning of the colors, especially green, Mexico has created a truly memorable and significant national flag.