The eagle and snake found on the Mexican flag is the Mexican coat of arms. Over the centuries, it has become one of the most important symbols of Mexican culture. It existed long before European settlers even set foot on the land. But, what is the significance of the eagle and snake on the Mexican flag?
The eagle and snake design is an ancient Aztec symbol. According to legend, the Aztecs decided to build their first city in the exact place they spotted an eagle eating a snake. While it is unknown if this story is true, the Aztecs certainly used the image heavily over the following centuries, and it has now become an important cultural symbol in Mexico.
Let’s tell you a bit more about it.
What Is The Significance of the Eagle and Snake on the Mexican Flag?
Before Mexico City was Mexico City, it was known as Tenochtitlan. While we don’t know exactly when Tenochtitlan City was founded, most historians believe it was around 1325.
The story behind the eagle and the snake is a little bit hazy. Some Aztec stories suggest that the Aztecs were instructed by the sun god Huitzlopochti to search for an eagle eating a snake. If they saw that, then they would know that this is where they had to build their city. Once Tenochtitlan had finished construction, the Aztec empire expanded rapidly. Since legend says that this all started with the eagle and the snake, it is no wonder that these animals became a major symbol in Aztec culture.
Other stories suggest that the eagle and the snake were nothing more than symbols. The eagle was meant to represent good, and the snake was meant to represent the destruction of evil. This is the meaning that the Europeans gave to the eagle and snake once they arrived in the area now known as Mexico. This actually lines up with European thinking at the time, although it is equally likely to be a poor translation of Aztec texts.
What Does The Cactus Tree Mean On The Mexican Flag?
The cactus isn’t always mentioned in Aztec artifacts and stories.
It is likely that the cactus ties in with the legend of Tenochtitlan. Legends suggest that the Aztecs didn’t just have to find an eagle eating a snake, but that eagle also had to be perched upon a cactus as it did so.
The cactus is a prominent symbol in Tenochtitlan. Before the Aztecs settled there, the area was covered in cacti. There were so many here that the official rune for Tenochtitlan was the cactus. The name Tenochtitlan literally means ‘place where a cactus grows from a stone’.
The eagle and the snake on the Mexican flag can mean two different things. It depends on who you ask.
If you ask somebody with roots in ancient Aztec culture, then they will likely tell you that the eagle and snake represent the founding of the first Aztec city.
If you ask those with European roots, then you will probably be told that the eagle and snake represent the triumph of good over evil.
Whatever the story, there is no denying that it is one of the cooler images found on world flags.