Hello there! How are you doing? Today we have a brand new subject to continue studying Portuguese. It will bring us lots of new vocabulary and knowledge of Brazilian culture, the history of our Brazilian flag! Today we will take a full tour around this theme: we will understand the meaning behind the Brazilian flag, understand what it represents and even where the colors came from. Have you noticed that the flag has stars? We will also take a look at this and understand its role in the design. And we won’t forget about the previous flags of Brazil: the Empire flag and even the United States of Brazil flag. Did you know there is even an anthem especially for the flag and an entire Flag Day in Brazil? So buckle up! We not only study Portuguese, but also the story, culture and idioms of Brazil!
History of the Brazilian Flag
Modern Brazilian history, since the Independence in September 1822, has had three official flags. We will take a look at them and also their history and significance.
Brazilian Empire Flag
Just one year after the Declaration of Independence by Pedro I, Brazil designed its new flag. This flag had many similarities with our current one, but instead of the blue circle with a white stripe, the flag had a coat of arms which was created by Jean Baptiste Debret. It represented the reign of Pedro I as Emperor of Brazil, and was used until the Proclamation of the Republic, in 1889.
The United States of Brazil Flag
During the Proclamation of the Republic, the flag first officially used was the flag that represented the Republican Club. This was a group that discussed possible republican issues and that helped in the event of the proclamation. But the republican flag had several problems. Some versions used the black square to represent people of African descent, others used the blue square. The use of variations of the same flag did not contribute to the sense of unity that the newly democratic country needed, and soon there was a need to create a truly Brazilian flag.
The Official Flag
The new Brazilian flag had characteristics very similar to the Imperial flag. Although the new one used the blue sphere and the message of Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress) to replace the imperial crown. The motto Ordem e Progresso is derived from Auguste Comte’s motto of positivism: “L’amour pour principe et l’ordre pour base; le progrès pour but” (“Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal”). Raimundo Teixeira Mendes and Miguel Lemos projected it, while Décio Vilares designed it.
But what Does the Brazilian Flag Represent?
Brazilian Flag Colors
The popular belief is that the green represents the Brazilian forests, but the truth is more related to the country’s history. The green field and yellow parallelogram actually come from previous Brazilian imperial flag. Originally, the green represented the House of Braganza of Pedro I (the first Emperor of Brazil).
If you ask a Brazilian, they will probably say the yellow represents the gold or the sun, but this color was actually a complementary one to the green. The yellow represented the House of Habsburg of Pedro I’s wife, Empress Maria Leopoldina.
The blue circle in the center of the Brazilian flag represents the celestial sphere. It’s also important to notice that, within the history of Christianity, blue represents the immaculate conception, Our Lady of Aparecida (mother of Jesus). Lady of Aparecida was officially declared by the Pope as the patron saint of Brazil and Portugal. Since the Catholic Church had a major role in the politics between Portugal and Brazil, it’s only fair to mention this as something significant to the choice of this color.
Brazilian Flag Stars
While the national colors of Brazil are very significant, many are actually curious about the significance of the stars. The Brazilian flag stars represent each one of the States of the Brazilian Federation. Their sizes are entirely based on the actual sizes of each one of the states. When it was first created, it had 21 stars, but later received new stars because of the creation of new states. Today, there are 27 stars in its current version. Did you know that the positions of the 27 stars in Brazil flag make it one of the most complicated national flags to construct? They align exactly with 9 constellations, and their position represent what the sky looked like on the day the Proclamation of the Republic happened.
Flag Day and Flag Anthem
The Brazilian flag has many protocols and standards to be followed. But did you know that there is a flag day? Brazilian flag day is celebrated on November 19, when a flag is no longer fit to use, it must be delivered to a military facility to be burned during a special ceremony. The Brazilian flag anthem is also performed on this day, with lyrics written by poet Olavo Bilac, and the music composed by Francisco Braga. Let’s listen to it and take a look at the lyrics:
(Fonte: Domínio Público, Disponível em: http://www.dominiopublico.gov.br/pesquisa/DetalheObraForm.do?select_action=&co_obra=2214)
Salve, lindo pendão da esperança!
Salve, símbolo augusto da paz!
Tua nobre presença à lembrança
A grandeza da Pátria nos traz.
Recebe o afeto que se encerra
Em nosso peito juvenil,
Querido símbolo da terra,
Da amada terra do Brasil!
Em teu seio formoso retratas
Este céu de puríssimo azul,
A verdura sem par destas matas,
E o esplendor do Cruzeiro do Sul.
Contemplando o teu vulto sagrado,
Compreendemos o nosso dever,
E o Brasil por seus filhos amado,
Poderoso e feliz há de ser!
Sobre a imensa nação brasileira,
Nos momentos de festa ou de dor,
Paira sempre, sagrada bandeira,
Pavilhão da justiça e do amor!
Now we understand a little better the meaning of the Brazilian flag colors, what the Brazilian flag represents, and even what the old Brazilian flags looked like. Which was your favorite fact about the Brazilian national flag? Do you know what the colors of your country’s flag mean?
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Hugs from Rio de Janeiro!