Wondering about the Greek flag? If you’re a fan of the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory,” you probably already know what Vexillology means: it is basically the study of the flags of the world, and the character Sheldon Cooper is the perfect example of a flag aficionado. Learning about the history of a country’s flag has the ability to give you an insight into the country’s past, culture, and identity. Flags are often symbols of national pride, and understanding the history behind a flag can help to understand the values and beliefs of a country’s people.
In today’s article, we’ll do what Sheldon Cooper did in his show: have “Fun with Flags.” From its origins to its symbolism, we’re going to take a little step into the world of Vexillology and learn a few fun facts about the Greek flag. So, whether you’re a history buff, a traveler, or just curious about the world around you, read on to discover some fascinating facts about the Greek flag.
The Greek Flag
The Greek flag or σημαία (pronounced as simaía) symbolizes national pride and cultural heritage for the people of Greece. It features a blue and white cross on a field of blue with nine horizontal stripes and has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century.
The origins of the Greek flag can be traced all the way back to the 1820s, during the Greek War of Independence, when Greece was still under Ottoman rule. At the time, a group of Greek rebels, known as the “Philhellenes,” began to fight for independence, so they needed a flag to rally under and represent their cause.
One of the first designs for a Greek flag was created by a German artist named Andreas Kalvos, that was part of this rebel Greek group fighting for independence. This design was already very close to the current look and featured a white cross on a light blue field, with a white border around the edge. This design was later modified by another Philhellene, a Greek merchant named Ioannis Kapodistrias, who added a second blue stripe to the flag. This design was officially adopted as the flag of the newly independent Greece in 1822.
Throughout the 19th century, the Greek flag underwent several changes, both in shape and color. The cross was modified, and the color of the flag was changed to a deeper blue. The current design, which features a blue and white cross on a field of blue, was adopted in 1978.
The first blue and white flag in Greece appeared in 1807, and it was simply a white cross on a blue square. After many remodeling in both shape and color, the colors blue and white were officially decided for the flag in 1822.
According to several theories, the blue and white colors of the Greek flag are said to symbolize the blue of the sea and the white of the waves, representing the country’s maritime history and culture. They are also associated with white for purity, and blue to the God in the sky, who helped Greece defeat the Ottoman Empire.
Despite the discordance in the theories, one thing is certain: colors like red and green are not represented due to the memories of the ruling empire at the time.
Believe it or not, the official Greek national flag was only adopted on December 22nd, 1978, just a few decades ago!
Nine Equal Horizontal Stripes
If you look at the flag, besides the cross that has been a recurring theme for many versions, it is also featured 9 stripes that, according to one theory, represent the nine syllables of the phrase “Freedom or death” (Ε-ΛΕΥ-ΘΕ-ΡΙΑ Η ΘΑ-ΝΑ-ΤΟΣ).
Another theory is that these stripes represent the Nine Muses, daughters of Zeus, king of the 12 Ancient Greek Gods in greek Mythology.
Finally, a more simplistic theory defends that the stripes are simply waves in the Aegean Sea.
Either way, the flag has a beautiful history, whatever theory happens to be true.
6 Fun Facts About The Greek Flag
Like any other flag in the world, there are some facts that are both entertaining and interesting to learn. Thus, here is a list of a few of them that I hope will make you look at the Greek national flag in a completely new way:
- There are 8 sizes to which the flag can be produced, always with a 2:3 proportion;
- The largest Greek flag can be found inside the Acropolis in Athens, measuring 6.5 x 4.3 meters!
- There is no precise tone of blue mentioned in the specifications of the flag. The information available only implies that it is a dark blue, so it may be subject to interpretation and taste.
- The greek flag cannot be thrown in the trash if it is worn out. It should be destroyed!
- There are 2 years in prison saved for everyone who removes, destroys, disfigures, or defiles the official flag. If you’re going to Greece, please respect the flag!
- The Greek flag is always the first to be shown in the Olympic Games since 1928, as the games were initially held in Ancient Greece.
Over To You!
It is amazing how much we can learn about a country just by looking at its flag, am I right? Just like Greece, there are many more countries that take pride in their flag, and from this, we can learn many interesting things about the country’s history and culture. We can even learn how to say a few words in the local language, as some flags even have text (Brazil is a good example that has a Portuguese phrase in the official flag).
If you have any more interesting trivia about the Greek flag or even a funny story to tell us, please use the comment section and share it with everyone!
Learning about flags can be the perfect starting point to increase your knowledge about a certain country and culture, so what should be the next step? Language, of course!
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Learning the local greetings and language of a country is the perfect way to get yourself introduced to new cultures and traditions, as there are certain aspects of a culture you can only understand and absorb if you speak the local language.
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