What do the eagle and snake represent for on Flag Day in Mexico?

What do the eagle and snake represent for on Flag Day in Mexico?

On Flag Day, we discussed the changes that our national flag has experienced over time. Now, we’ll describe what the eagle, the snake, and the nopal on the shield stand for. Did you know that they also stand for aspects of biodiversity, making the Mexican flag one of the flags with the greatest number of natural symbols?

What biodiversity components does the emblem have?

In addition to the green color, which represents the natural world, the nation’s biodiversity and hope, the national shield, which is in the center of the Mexican flag, has elements of flora and fauna, which synthesize “the biological richness of a country that with only 1% of the planet’s territory is home to 10% of the species of flora and fauna that exist in it”, according to a publication by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

We have the following biodiversity-related components in the flag:

  • Mexican golden eagle
  • Snake
  • Nopal
  • Snails
  • Olive
  • Oak
  • Laurel
  • Water
  • Air
  • Land
  • Fire

What are the meanings of the eagle and snake on the flag?

We must not forget that Mexico places fifth in the world in terms of biodiversity, and these elements—the eagle, the snake, the nopal, the snails, the olive tree, the oak tree; laurel, water, air, earth, and fire—epitomize the richness and strength of our nation in this regard.

The mexican golden eagle, a strategic species for conservation; the nopal, a substantial food for Mexicans that reached its greatest diversity in our country after 5.12 million years of evolution, and the snake, which represents a “endemic element of our biota and clearly captures the biological personality of Mexico ”, are basic elements in the flag, according to Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg, co-author of the work “National Shield. Flora, fauna and biodiversity”, and quoted by a publication of the Government of Mexico.

In this publication of the Government of Mexico it is mentioned that restoring the symbolism of the mexican golden eagle on the shield of a nation denied and destroyed by the Spanish conquerors, responded at the dawn of the 19th century to the urgent need of the insurgents to recover the umbilical cord of the Independent Mexico with pre-Hispanic Mexico.

The sacred eagle, perched on a nopal, symbolized Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and of war, associated with the sun because it is the bird that soars to the highest altitudes, just like the star does, and it is the very representation of the sun, tutelary god of the Mexicas.

The eagles also stand in for the 22 different species of eagles that can be found in Mexico and the thousands of birds that are constantly soaring through the sky.

While there are more than 400 species of snakes in Mexico, 216 of them are endemic, they constitute a significant portion of the nearly 4,000 species that are currently known to exist in the world. Thus, the eagle, the nopal, and the snake are recognizable symbols of our biodiversity and of our emblem.