Now with new flags for Flag Day 2020
Flags. Seems like everywhere?s got one these days.
Ever since I started pledging allegiance to one, I?ve found the concept of flags, what they symbolize, and how that?s translated into a neat, usually 3’x5′ colorful piece of cloth, fascinating.
The first flags to let fly in the modern sense (aka on cloth representing something people are obsessed with) are cited as being from India or China in 1000?250 BCE. That?s a pretty wide range, like those American flags you see flown in Texas, and the reason for that is partially because cloth doesn?t exactly last long, and also, vexillology ? the study of flags ? has only been a thing since 1961.
So let me just say: I?m even more of an amateur than that. But starting this Flag Day, I?m using this post as a means of definitively* ranking the coolest-looking (contemporary) flags around the world until there aren?t any left. See you next year, and until I?m dead.
And, uh, if it doesn?t go without saying, how cool a country?s flag is doesn?t mean its policies are.
In 2019 I featured Bhutan?s flag as one of only two national flags bold enough to feature dragons on them, and this year we certainly have to talk about Baner Cymru. The Red Dragon traces its origins to 655 (good year), adopted by King Cadwaladr, a figure whose history is legend: he is said to be the last with ancient ties to the title ?King of Britain.? He is mythologized by Y Ddraig Goch, ?the red dragon? representing the Britons, who was prophesied by Merlin (yes, that Merlin) would one day wrestle its way free from grip of the white dragon, or the Saxons who invaded Great Britain hundreds of years ago. Aside from the fact that dragons themselves are badass, the origins of this flag involve the legend of King Arthur, so like, this is obviously one of the coolest out there. The once and future flag.
There?s something calming about South Korea?s flag. Red and blue can be harsh, but the muted tones chosen here just vibe. The ?trigrams? (which look like pallets) surrounding the central circle, too, look protective ? anchoring the sea of white. And that?s no mistake, of course: the white color represents peace and purity; the circle is balance; each trigram is an element representing movement and harmony. It?s all vibing, man.
Malawi, in Southeastern Africa, adopted its flag on 6 July 1964 to symbolize its independence from the United Kingdom as well as the broader independence movement across the continent. The sun up top represents the dawn of that new era; its 31 rays for Malawi being the 31st state freed from European rule; the black represents the indigenous people; the red their blood spilled fighting for freedom; the green its natural bounty. It?s rare to find a flag that conveys a deep history in only three colors and shapes.
Bahrain?s flag is simple and elegant. With two of the most classic flag colors, white and red, the five triangles formed by their jagged lines symbolize the five pillars of Islam. They also remind me of those serrated scissors I used to get to mess around with in elementary school, and those were fun as hell.
Isle of Man
Three disembodied legs arranged in a triskelion over a deep blood red, now may I say again: simple and elegant? Perhaps less elegant and more fucking awesome. Anyway the legs as a triskelion ? a cool new word we both just learned, which is any three same things arranged in a symmetrical fashion ? is a thing the ancient Greeks invented (classic) and nobody knows why it was chosen for the flag of the Isle of Man. Seems like they just have a good sense of what?s rad and what isn?t.
All right so, you?re probably asking, ?Hey Josh, when so many Slavic states use this tricolor combo, why feature Slovakia first?? It?s a question I?ve got before and surely will again. The reason is that Slovakia really put in the time on this sleek banner of national unity. Following independence in 1990, they had a painter and expert in heraldry, Ladislav ?isrik, create a new coat of arms, and boy, did he. The crest is just the right size ? not too small, not too big, just to the left ? it?s not just a cross but a DOUBLE cross for even more faith, and then you got the white/blue/red combo, which is a tried-and-true deal.
Being one of the countries where modern flag design is thought to originate, it?s no surprise India has a beautiful flag. The Indian Tricolour is another one of these flags that nails the three-color scheme and tells a storied history through its symbols. The central ?spinning wheel? was originally proposed by Gandhi in 1921, whose goal was to make Indians self-reliant; to spin cloth for themselves. Then, the saffron represents ?courage and sacrifice,? the white ?peace and truth,? and the green ?faith and chivalry.? 26 years later, when India did achieve independence, the central symbol was replaced by the venerable Ashoka Chakra for the rule of law. And it rules.
We covered Denmark?s Dannebrog in 2019 and now we have to talk about Erfalasorput, or ?our flag? in Greenlandic. The Danes just know how to make a classy flag, what can I say. After Greenland won home rule in 1978, it took them a good ten years to come to a consensus on a flag design ? many folks wanting a Nordic cross to be involved ? but I think we can all agree: the wait was worth it. The white on the top is its glaciers, while the red is the ocean around them. Most agree the circle?s top is the sun, with the bottom white half being its reflection onto the sea, but some say the circle is the top and submerged bottom of an iceberg ? an image that also would have been useful for another inhabitant of the North Atlantic: the captain of the Titanic.
One thing I?ll say is that I?m a sucker for a sassy bright shade of a classic color. The Uzbek flag?s colors just look? good together. Especially with the red drawing your eye to the center, whose white line symbolizes peace and the Zoroastrianism religion ? dominant there before Islam, which is referenced in the top left (the ?canton,? or the upper-most corner of a flag from where it?s hoisted). The 12 stars spell ?Allah? when connected. The red is a symbol of life, the green nature, and the blue, sky blue sky baby.
Hong Kong has had many flags in its complicated history, but it finished with its best and hopefully, last. The red field is the same red on the Chinese flag, and was originally adopted in 1990, seven years before it was officially hoisted at the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. Its design shows solidarity with China and its ?one country, two systems? policy, and with the central five-petal flower to show off the iconic Hong Kong orchid tree. It is now rightfully being used by Hongkongers fighting for democratic reforms.
Trinidad and Tobago
You don?t really need me to tell you that this flag is clean. Although only adopted at independence in 1962, this flag design and color scheme is timeless. Red, white, and black are powerful on their own and really pop when together, and here they respectively symbolize courage, dedication, and equality, which are also dope things.
One definition of being ?cool? is being ?chill.? Kiribati?s flag falls into the latter category because everything on it is chill as hell. Adapted from the former flag of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands, they basically just got rid of the Union Jack and made the sun, waves, and bird bigger because hey, that?s just a solid marketing campaign for some islands in the South Pacific.
If Atlantis were real (read: and not currently underneath the Atlantic), you know this would be its flag. It?s simple, it?s elegant, it?s got a freaking trident on it. Poseidon himself certainly would?ve flown this bad boy.
The Dannebrog, aside from sounding like something you valiantly slay in a cursed forest, is also supposedly the ?oldest national flag still in use.? But the main thing for me here is that it inspired all the other Scandinavian flags, from Iceland to Finland, and all of those are slick too. So what I?m saying is that it?s like the Apple logo of flag design.
The Union Jack was kinda crap until Great Britain?s union with Ireland in 1801. Sure, the original union flag of 1606 was all right, but that red diagonal Cross of St. Patrick really steps it up a notch. When you think of a complex but aesthetically pleasing flag, this is where you should start. (I mean, come on, it?s still featured on 19 other national flags ? and don?t even get me STARTED on provinces.)
This reference is a little Byzantine of them, but since the 15th century Albanians have used the Byzantine eagle as a symbol of rebellion. When they finally gained independence from the Ottomans in 1912 they decided to stick with that because it?s one bird you clearly don?t wanna mess with (second only to that owl in Ocarina of Time).
Newfoundland & Labrador
I mean, what the fuck? Have you ever even heard of this? It?s the most eastern of the Canadian provinces, basically a bunch of islands and a bit of the landmass above Quebec and somehow it got this badass flag that looks like a weapon straight outta Star Wars.
One of only two national flags with a dragon on it, I gotta give the ?coolest? award to the flag of Bhutan. The Welsh flag is pretty sweet as well, but Bhutan?s has got the Thunder Dragon on there. Like Buddhist monks back in the 12th century, I understand that you don?t fuck with something that has ?Thunder? included in its name. So I?m not about to start doing that now.
?First? discovered by the Spanish, colonized by the French, and passed onto the Brits, after all that these guys rightfully were just like ?Fuck it, let?s drop a ref to the verdant landscape and the parishes and shit, then just put a bird on it and call it a day.? And that?s a good birb.
Nicaragua?s flag might look like it?s all about unity, with the rainbow and trees and all that, but it?s also clearly confirming the existence of the Illuminati. And what?s that taking the place of the pyramid?s eye? It?s an outline of Nicaragua itself. So I?m gonna go ahead and put this one on here in case they?re watching me.
First of all, good name for a country. Second of all, this flag looks sick while symbolizing a lot of good stuff: the ocean and sky, the sun, the people, unity and love, and the earth. It leaves you thinking, ?Say ? chill flag, that is.?
Had a bad day? Boss won?t get off your ass? The ol? ball and chain won?t let you have a night out with the boys? Just take a look at Uruguay?s flag. Take it all in. Think about what the sun would look like if he had sunglasses on. Everything will be just fine, dude.
Nothing much to say here, it?s just a good-lookin? flag. That?s the island right there in the middle, see it? It?s part of the Netherlands, formerly the Antilles. Just thinking about it makes me wanna go there. Man, I need a vacation.
Happy Flag Day. Check in next year for another dozen or so flags, and an updated ranking.