Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Flag of Ukraine

Given the focus on this part of the world this year, I figured I'd feature the Ukrainian flag.  I find the colors to complement each other quite nicely, and love that its a geographical flag.  The yellow represents the wheat fields prevalent in Ukraine, and the blue represents the sky above it.

As a national flag, the blue and yellow bicolour was officially used since the 1848 Spring of Nations when it was hoisted over the Lviv Rathaus. It is was officially adopted as a state flag for the first time in 1918 by the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic. During the Soviet occupation, the flag was outlawed and before 1949 there was no official state flag until adoption of the red-blue flag of the Ukrainian SSR. People who were hoisting the blue-yellow flags in the Soviet Ukraine were prosecuted as criminals. The blue and yellow flag was provisionally adopted for official ceremonies in September 1991 following Ukrainian independence, before finally officially being restored in 1992.

The roots of Ukrainian national symbols come from before Christian times when yellow and blue prevailed in traditional ceremonies, reflecting fire and water. The most solid proof of yellow and blue colours could be traced as far as the Battle of Grunwald at which participated militia formations from various lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Union.

Given what is going on there, I'm sure you will all see this beautiful flag more often. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Flag of the Faroe Islands

It has been sugguested by some of the readers that I go into a bit more detail when honoring a flag, here, so you ask and you shall receive. The purpose of this blog is 1/2 historical use and 1/2 flag design, so we shall go into both.

 Today I am featuring my all time favorite national flag, the flag of the Faroe Islands.  In its home country is is referred to as " Merkið" which means "the banner" or "the mark".  The design of the flag incorporates a red Nordic cross, which is offset to the left. The red cross is fimbrated azure and is set on a white field. The flag design closely resembles that of the Norwegian flag, with the fimbriated cross. The flag ratio is usually 16:22 or 8:11.  White symbolizes the creators of the flag, the foam of the sea and the pure, radiant sky of the Faroe Islands, while the old Faroese blue and red colours are reminiscent of other Scandinavian and Nordic flags; representing the Faroe Islands' bonds with other Nordic countries.  Historically, the blue colour of the Faroese flag has changed. When the flag was officially recognized by Danish authorities in 1948, the blue was described as "dark blue", and shared the same color pallet as the Norwegian flag.  However, in the Faroese flag law of 1959, the blue was described as "azure" - a much lighter colour. Finally, a step back to a darker blue was taken on 29 December 1998 when the Faroese Parliament specified the flag's colours in the Pantone system. Blue was to match PMS 300, red PMS 032. Red was, by the way, first described as "high red" in 1948, then as "fagurreyður" ("fair red"?) in 1959.

The modern Faroese flag was devised in 1919 by Jens Oliver Lisberg and others while they were studying in Copenhagen. The first time Merkið was raised in the Faroe Islands was on 22 June that year in Fámjin (a village along the coastline coastline on the western side of Suðuroy, the southern­most island in Faroe Islands) on the occasion of a wedding. On 25 April, 1940, the British occupation government approved the flag for use by Faroese vessels. 25 April is still celebrated as Flaggdagur and it is a national holiday. With the Home Rule Act of 23 March, 1948, the flag was recognized by the Danish Government as the national flag of the Faroes. The original copy of the flag is displayed in the church of Fámjin in Suðuroy.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Grand Union Flag

As it may seem typical to do an American flag on Independence day, I decided to dedicate today's post to what is considered to be the first national flag of the United States.  The Grand Union Flag (also the Continental Colors, the Congress Flag, the Cambridge Flag, and the First Navy Ensign) is considered to be the first national flag of the United States. This flag consisted of thirteen red and white stripes with the British Union Flag of the time (the variant prior to the inclusion of the St. Patrick's cross of Ireland) in the canton.
By the end of 1775, during the first year of the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress operated as a de facto war government authorizing the creation of an army, navy and even a marine corps. A new flag was required to represent the Congress and fledgling nation, different from the Red Ensign flown from British vessels and British Union flags carried by the King's troops.
The Grand Union flag was first hoisted on the USS Alfred, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 3, 1775, by Lieutenant John Paul Jones. The event had been documented in letters to Congress and eyewitness accounts.  The Flag Act of 1777 authorized a new official national flag of a design similar to that of the Colors, with thirteen stars (representing the thirteen States) on a field of blue replacing the British Union flag in the canton.

AdoptedDecember 3, 1775
DesignA field of 13 red and white stripes with the flag of Great Britain Union Flag in the canton. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Flag of Bhutan

Today's featured flag is one of my favorites.  The flag is based upon the tradition of the Drukpa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and features Druk, the Thunder Dragon of Bhutanese mythology. The basic design of the flag by Mayum Choying Wangmo Dorji dates to 1947. In the 1950's  the dragon, which had formerly been placed in a roughly horizontal position in the center of the flag, was repositioned to spread out over the diagonal dividing line between the background colors. Finally, in the 1960's the Bhutanese subsequently redesigned their flag to match the measurements of the flag of India, which they believed fluttered better than their own. Other modifications such as changing the red background color to orange led to the current national flag, in use since 1969.

While this flag isnt that old itself, the Buddhist Thunder Dragon Druk goes back at least as far as the 1100's, and when you have a dragon on your flag, who really cares how old it is. 

DesignDivided diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is yellow and the lower triangle is orange; centered along the dividing line is a large black and white dragon facing away from the hoist side[

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Flag of Mozambique

Today, we are featuring the very unique flag or Mozambique.  The flag was adopted on May 1st 1983. It includes the image of an AK-47 with a bayonet attached to the barrel and is the only national flag in the world to feature such a modern firearm.  Green stands for the riches of the land, the white fimbriations signify peace, black represents the African continent, yellow symbolizes the country's minerals, and red represents the struggle for independence. The rifle stands for defence and vigilance, the open book symbolizes the importance of education, the hoe represents the country's agriculture, and the star symbolizes Marxism and internationalism.

This flag does an excellent job of representing many different things, without being too cluttered.  It shares the Pan-African colors, a link to the African culture, and a representation of Marxist ideology. 

Proportion 28:3
Adopted May 1st 1983
Design Green, Black, and Yellow tricolor with a red wedge on the hoist.  The red wedge defaced with a yellow star, open book, AK-47, and a farmers hoe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Flag of Denmark

Among the independent nations recognized by the UN, the Danish flag is generally considered as the oldest continuously used national flag in existence, and thus fitting for my first post here.  Referred to in Danish as Danneborg, it is one of the most visually striking flags, and one of my personal favorites.  This flag falls under the Nordic Cross flag family, which all share a similar design, but different dimensions.  

There is a legend as to how this flag came to be. According to legend, the flag came into Danish possession during the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219. The Danes were on a failing crusade in Estonia, but after praying to God a flag fell from the sky. After this event, Danish King Valdemar II went on to defeat the Estonians. The first recorded uses of the flag appear some one hundred years later.

Whether from divine sources or not, this flag is quite beautiful. 

Proportion 28:34 to 28:37
Adopted Versions in use since at least c. 1400 official design for civil ensign adopted 1748 (slightly greater length tolerated since 1893); private use on land sanctioned 1854.
Design A red field charged with a white cross extending to the edges; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side. Dimensions: 3:1:3 width / 3:1:4.5 to 3:1:5.25 length.