TODAY, December 4, is not just any other day in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia. It is, in fact, the ‘Day of the Andalucian Flag’, a date chosen to commemorate demonstrations that took place back in 1977 in favour of the autonomy of the area. But why is the flag green and white, and what exactly does its emblem represent?
To get to the bottom of this question, we have to travel all the way back in time to the 8th century, when Muslim tribes conquered the Iberian Peninsula and established Al-Andalus in most of what is now Spain and Portugal.
The green colour from the flag comes from the official colour from the Umayyad Caliphate, which was the dynasty that ruled Al-Andalus from the year 756 to 1030, according to website Andalucia Informacion. Green was not only the colour of Islam, but also of hope and life.
As for the white band, it represents the Almohad Caliphate, which controlled Al-Andalus from 1147 to 1269. White was the colour of purity and unity, as well as the colour of peace and parliamentarism. The Almohad established a system of assemblies and councils in order to govern, according to Andalucia Informacion.
It wasn’t, however, until 1918 that the colours came together on a flag. The occasion was the meeting of representatives from the eight provinces in Andalucia in a bid to call for the autonomy of the region and the recognition of its identity. It was designed by politician, writer and historical Blas Infante (1885-1936), a man considered to be the ‘father of Andalusia’ by regional nationalists.
As for the emblem on the flag, it is inspired by the arms of the city Cadiz, which was one of the first cities to be founded on the Iberian peninsula. The symbol shows the Pillars of Hercules, which is the ancient name given to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar.
A young Hercules is also present in the emblem, accompanied by two lions, above the lines: “Andalucia por si, para España and la humanidad”. This could be translated as: “Andalusia for itself, for Spain, and for humanity”. On the arch above Hercules’ head is the Latin inscription: “Dominator Hercules Fundator”, meaning “Hercules the founder”.
The emblem on the flag has a symbolic meaning, representing the history and culture of the region. Hercules represents the eternally young spirit of Andalucia, the lions represent the force of animal instincts, which need to be tamed by reason and the strength of will, and they also represent power, nobility and courage.
The arch, meanwhile, represents the union and harmony between the provinces, cities, towns and villages in Andalusia.