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World flags – Harsh history smoothed

Some time ago, I got this idea about “fastly and quickly” doing some printables for all the little flag enthusiastic out there. I thought that colors and symbols in flags will represent peace, prosperity and all furry and cute things.

Little did I know. Stories behind flags were full of blood and tears. There are so many countries out there that have fought to get their independence! To keep it appropriate for children, I had to come up with euphemisms for these situations. I think the worst story was that after a fight, the king was totally covered in blood and the only non-red part was the one that had had a belt on it during the fight. Do you know what that flag was?

Other problems were flags that were so old, that experts can only make educated guesses where the colors and symbols come from. Sometimes the symbols are no longer the best representatives of the current nation and its people.

Take the Scandinavian cross for example. The cross represents Christianity and has been copied to other scandinavian flags from the Danish flag, which is the oldest continuously used flag in the world and design is likely to date back to crusades. However, scandinavian countries are quite secular and non-crusadic these days, but the flags remain (and people are proud of those flags, too.)

I also learned that there are certain color sets, such as pan-African colors and pan-Arab colors which appear in many flags of their representative area. There is also a pan-Slavic color set, but that happens to be the same as the “colors of freedom” and you are not always sure what the reference is. 

The set contains a small presentation, list of world flags and their meanings and some crosswords to recognize flags. It’s available here.

By thebrigh

Hi! My name is Jenni and I used to be a math teacher in Finland. I have a master's degree in math and also studies in computer science and pedagogy. Talented students are close to my heart, hence the name of the site. But I also might write about other stuff.

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