Flag Day is coming up for the US on June 14th, a day that celebrates the creation of “Old Glory.”
Let’s find out more about flags!
Every nation on the planet has its own flag. Individual states and cities in those nations have flags. Groups have their flags, government agencies have flags, and sometimes, certain movements and events create their own flags.
Why Are National Flags So Important?
National flags are a symbol for a country or region. Everything that represents that country is gathered onto a small rectangle. Flags are used to signify governmental buildings, the borders of regions, and have been used in the past for battle signals.
So, who comes up with the ideas for the symbol of a nation?
There’s a title for that job. Someone who designs flags is called a vexillologist.
The different colors, shapes, and images that make up flags aren’t chosen simply because they look good. Everything that goes into the design of a flag symbolizes something for that country.
Believe it or not, there are “rules” for designing a flag. These aren’t laws. They’re more essential criteria for what makes a good flag.
What Features Make Up a Great Flag?
- Simplicity- keeping the design simple makes it easy to recognize and remember.
- Meaningful colors- the colors used in the flag’s creation hold some meaning for that country.
- No more than three colors- most flags use a combination of simple colors: white, red, blue, green, black, and yellow.
- No words and symbols- from a distance, the words and symbols would be blurry. They would lose their significance.
- And finally, the flag should be unique- that’s so a country’s flag can’t be confused for another’s.
There are a lot of countries in the world. With 193 official countries, that’s a lot of flags.
The state of Palestine flies its own flag, as well as the State of the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, and parts of the surrounding land. That is called the Holy See and is under the jurisdiction of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
With that many different countries, not every flag follows the “rules.”
The Most Complicated Flag in the World
The country of Turkmenistan in the Middle East is said to have the most complex design for a flag. Only made up of four colors, green, white, red, and gold (yellow), the oval designs on the left side are representative of the five major tribes that made up the population of the country. They’re called guls and the patterns are used in the beautiful rugs they weave.
The five stars stand for the five provinces that the country is divided into. The crescent moon stands for a bright future for this relatively young country. The country gained independence in 1991.
An olive branch was added in 1997 as a symbol of the country’s peaceful nature.
The Simplest Flag in the World
The country of Ukraine, located in eastern Europe, has one of the simplest flags.
Two equal-sized fields of blue and yellow run horizontally on the flag. The blue is for the blue sky. The yellow is for fields of wheat.
The blue and yellow flag for Ukraine was made official in 1992, and they have a celebration of flag day every year in August.
Many countries use tri-color or triband flags which are flags with three different colors. The simplest flags only have these bands with no additional emblems or symbols.
The flag of Italy is called il Tricolore. “The three colors” in Italian. Green, white, and red make up their official flag, which has been in place since January 1, 1948.
The colors of the Italian flag have been symbolic to the country since 1797. There is a range of ideas around what each represents.
During the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, from 1804-1814, it’s thought that green stood for hope, white for faith, and red represented love.
Another idea surrounding the flag explains it as green stands for the color of the meadows, white for the snow of the Alps, and red for the blood and sacrifice during the Wars of Italian Independence and Unification.
Like many other countries, Italy has a flag day too. They celebrate the commemoration of their flag every year on January 7th. You can read all about the history of Italy here. Check out our eat2explore Italy box to enjoy the taste of Italy!
There are 14 other countries that use a simple triband flag with no other emblems or features.
Flag Day in the United States of America
Flag Day in the United States began in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.
June 14th of 1777 is the date that a resolution was passed declaring a new flag for the United States.
There were originally 13 colonies that made up the new country. The newly created flag symbolized the colonies with 13 red and white stripes. The 13 stars on the blue field were said to represent a new constellation.
There is a long-held tradition in the US that a seamstress named Betsy Ross sewed the very first American flag for George Washington.
As the United States continued to grow, it outgrew the original design.
The flag had two more stars and stripes added when Kentucky and Vermont were made states.
During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem called "The Star-Spangled Banner" that was turned into the national anthem. The US flag is also called the Star-Spangled Banner from the poem.
Then in 1818, President James Monroe signed a bill that changed the number of stripes back to 13. This was to represent the original 13 colonies.
That bill also increased the number of stars to 20 and stated that a new star would be added every year on the Fourth of July for every new state that became a part of the country.
This continued until 1960 when Hawaii joined the U. S. as the 50th state.
The 13 stripes still stand for the original 13 colonies. The field of blue is filled with 50 stars. This is still the current version of the U. S. flag.
Flag Day is not an official national holiday, but it’s still celebrated. Many places around the country have parades. Homes and businesses are decorated with red, white, and blue to display the nation’s colors, and flags are proudly hung in honor of Old Glory.
You can enjoy delicious foods this Flag Day from our USA eat2explore boxes!