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The Brazilian Flag: History and Significance of Brazil’s National Symbol
The flag of Brazil, established on 19 November 1889, was designed by Décio Vilares and projected by Raimundo Teixeira Mendes and Miguel Lemos. The current national flag is the second version, since the proclamation of the republic. This is the third since independence. The flat is considered by the Federal Constitution as the fourth official symbol of the Federal Republic of Brazil. The other symbols are the national anthem, the national arms and the national seal.
The current version of the flag has the following characteristics: its base is a green rectangle, surmounted by a yellow diamond and then by a blue circle. Within the blue circle you can find 27 white stars that represent the states of Brazil. The blue circle is crossed in the middle by a white stripe where the words “Ordem e Progresso” (Order and Progress) are written.
The imperial flag, designed by the French artist Jean Baptiste Debret, in 1820 at the request of Dom João VI, was a major influence in the creation of the national flag of Brazil. The imperial flag already had some of the features present in the current flag, such as the colors and shapes. The act that initiated the foundation of the Brazilian national flag was signed on 18 September 1822.
The first version of the national flag retained the colors and shapes of the old imperial flag. The main colours, which represented the Portuguese royal family, had been retained. They were green, referring to the house of Bragança, a family of which Dom Pedro I was a part and yellow which represented the house of Habsburgo, of which the empress Dona Leopoldina was a part. According to the act that created the Brazilian flag, these colors were kept to represent the great victories already achieved by the nation.
Some interpret that the green and yellow colors are also a reference to Brazil’s greatest wealth, the forests and its minerals, such as gold. Blue represents the sky and the stars are its state. Furthermore, the way the stars are arranged in the green field refers to the sky of Rio de Janeiro, in the morning of November 15th, 1889, at 8:30 in the morning, the date and time of the Proclamation of the Republic .
The stars correspond to the federal states. There are five different sizes of stars which are grouped into nine constellations. The Southern Cross is placed in the center of the blue sphere of the national flag because it can be seen from all the states of Brazil.
The slogan “Ordem e Progresso” is an abbreviation of a political slogan by Auguste Comte: “Love as a principle and order as a basis; Progress as the goal.” And it was chosen by Teixeira Mendes, one of the founders of the national flag project and follower of the philosopher in Brazil.
Flag Day is celebrated on 19 November. When celebrating the flag, it must be raised at midday, in special solemnity and it must be lit during the night. The national flag also has its own anthem. Written by Olavo Bilac and set to music by Francisco Braga, the flag hymn was first introduced in 1906.
The national flag can be used in all kinds of patriotic manifestations, as these manifestations are official or specific. It is usually raised every day in municipal, state and federal buildings; in diplomatic missions and in the armed forces. It is also hoisted on days of national celebration and flown at half mast on days of mourning.
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