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The national flag of Greece was adopted by the First National Assembly at Epidaurus in January 1822.

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Why is the Greek flag blue? Why does it have nine lanes? When was it established as the official flag of the Greek state?

The first Greek flag with a white cross on a blue background was designed, woven, blessed and raised at the Evangelistria Monastery in Skiathos in 1807. The Greek flag in its official form was established in 1822 by the Epidaurus Constitution, with a Cross as a symbol of Orthodoxy. It was the official Greek flag until 1978. The striped pattern was chosen because of its resemblance to the wavy sea that surrounds the coast of Greece. The version of the White Cross in a blue frame is still used today, along with the most widespread form of stripes. Greek flag, as defined by the 1st National Assembly of Epidaurus and remained unchanged for almost 156 years, through despotism, monarchy, kingship, dictatorship, and democracy.

What does the Greek flag symbolize?

The colors blue and white symbolize the blue of the Greek sea and the white of the foaming waves. The horizontal lines are 9, as are the syllables of the slogan of the Greek Revolution, ” Freedom or Death “. The White Cross symbolizes the devotion of the Greeks to the Orthodox Christian Faith and the contribution of the Church to the formation of the modern Greek State.

The National Flag of Greece consists of 9 horizontal parallel lines of equal width, 5 Blue and 4 White in succession so that the first and the last are Blue. At the top left is a blue square, occupying the first 5 lines, in which there is a White Cross. The flag is mounted on a white pole on top of which there is (in certain cases) a White Cross. The type and colors (blue and white) of the National Flag were introduced in January 1822 at the 1st National Assembly of Epidaurus.

Flags and banners bearing the symbol of the cross were first used by the Byzantine Empire in the time of Constantine the Great. In post-Byzantine times the flags with the symbol of the cross were used by the Greeks at various times in the event of riots. Folk songs of the 17th and 18th-century Armatols indicate that they had cross-flames and other religious symbols.

History of Flags

The flag consists of a piece of fabric (formerly cotton, linen or silk, now nylon or polyester) that depicts a shape or emblem since the flags are generally symbolic. With a few exceptions (Swiss and Vatican) they are rectangular and (Libyan) colorful.

The flag, however, is not just a “piece of fabric”, as some old encyclopedias say, but a symbol embodying a whole lot of emotions and appearing in all possible and unlikely places, from battlefields to stadiums. How is it possible for a fabric to evoke such intense and overwhelming emotions, to symbolize so many things, to exacerbate our patriotism?

The flag is for a country, a state, its most sacred symbol, the most honored and loved by its people, its state, its troops, and its church, within and outside its territory (diplomatic and peacekeeping missions, events, achievements, conquests, etc.). The flag is, for all states, a symbol of special and often insuperable devotion: it is the highest symbol of a state, as its history, its past, its present, its future prospect are concentrated, and the one who holds her must be determined to defend her by all means, even with her life, if necessary.

The whole idea of ​​the homeland and the state is embedded in the flag. The concept of the flag is so closely intertwined with freedom, in times of slavery and oppression scatters emotion, which upset the enslaved and revolts them, so conquerors always take draconian measures to the flag of the enslaved country appears.

The flag in Greece, as well as in most countries in Europe and the rest of the world, flies daily in all administrative and government buildings, courts, schools, churches, and monasteries, in military units, diplomatic missions abroad, in Allied headquarters serving Greek officers, on warships and merchant ships, but also at UN, NATO, European Union headquarters Greece and other international organizations participating in Greece, while decorating national balconies (March 25th, October 28th) and local holidays (eg Kilkis liberation) adorns the balconies of houses, street columns and bus windshields. and trolleys, as a symbol of unity of people and the preservation of historical memory.

The flag is one of those high symbols honored by the army. The flag covers the coffins of officers, non-commissioned officers, and non-combatants who died during their service (excluding suicide bombers); officers of war availability, as well as active-duty officers and non-commissioned officers, receive the same honor.

Also, the Greek flag is carried on the green uniforms of overseas military, who go abroad in any capacity. The flag is also affixed to the left arm of the special uniform (pilot, flight engineer and air navigation).

The loss of the flag in the battle is considered as unbridled shame, while the acquisition of the enemy flag causes overwhelming joy and excitement, being one of the most important war trophies. The loss of the flag in the battle is considered as unbridled shame, while the acquisition of the enemy flag causes overwhelming joy and excitement, being one of the most important war trophies.

Flags and emblems  have been in use for 5,000 years with their style and shape constantly changing over this time. Flags, according to modern estimates of semantics, were used for the first time in the war and at sea to declare the identity of a group of people.

The ancient Greeks had their shield instead of the flag, which they honored and worshiped as a sanctuary. The Romans were the first (presumably) who introduced the use of textile flags. Alexander the Great‘s Macedonian phalanxes used long triangular flags, like broad strips, tied under the saris’ peak. Flags were also used by the Crusaders who fought the Islamic forces in the Holy Land in the 12th and 13th centuries.

During the Middle Ages, the emblems of monarchs and dynastic families adorned the flags. In Byzantium, the banners replaced the flags and at first, they carried various Christian representations and later the double-headed eagle.

State flags appeared in the 17th century. with the first flag of Great Britain in 1606. The Greek captains were the first to raise a flag on their ships. A peculiar Greek-Ottoman flag “rayaadiki” or “Greco-otomana”.

This flag protected ships from war risks when trading on behalf of a country at war with the Ottoman Empire. Rigas Velestinlis was the first to propose a red, white and black flag.

Today, each state has its own flag as a statement of its identity and origin. The flag has a special symbolism that derives from a cause or an event. In addition to state flags, there are religious, military, political, and other flags that express the common interest or common purpose of a group of people.

History of the Greek Flag

The Greek nation existed before 1830, but as long as it was a slave it had no state and, of course, no flag. But the peculiarity of the Greek nation, which has a common religion, a common language, common customs and a single state, have established the flag (and the National Anthem) as national symbols.

It is possible that the ancient Greeks used flags from the Mycenaean era, but later put flags on the triads. In turn, the Romans made their own flags, the so-called “sigas”, and then the Byzantines made the banners. Renowned and famous was the banner of Constantine the Great, who used it in the battle against Maxentius and had the inscription “Nika”.

Flags and banners bearing the symbol of the cross were first used by the Byzantine Empire in the time of Constantine the Great. In post-Byzantine times the flags with the symbol of the cross were used by the Greeks at various times in the event of riots. Folk songs of the 17th and 18th-century Armatols indicate that they had cross-flames and other religious symbols.

Throughout the Turkish occupation, the revolutionary movements of the enslaved Greeks were not lacking. Most flags had some common features (Byzantine purple, double-headed or single-headed eagle, etc.), most notably the cross because the Church was the main factor in the Greeks’ consolidation during the Turkish occupation. Soon the cross was imposed as a religious and political emblem of the subjugated nation, to such an extent that the clergy was led by insurrections using the sacred banners of their churches as flags. At the beginning of the Revolution of 1821 many flags appeared with various representations, according to each leaders imagination, based on his hatred of the Turks, his historical knowledge, his family traditions, and his religious devotion. Immediately after the capture of Tripolitsa (September 1821), Papaflesas cut a piece from the inner side of his rasos and at the same time asked Captain Panagiotis Kefala to tear two strips off his white fustanella(a traditional pleated skirt).
These pieces produced an improvised flag (blue with a white cross) that was raised, under the auspices of the Greek warriors, in the former Turkish city administration. This was the first draft of the official flag of the Greek state after the liberation.

On January 1, 1822, the 1st National Assembly convened at the Piazza Epidaurus. Among the many discussed was the issue of the establishment of a single revolutionary flag in order to stop the confusion that had existed so far with the appearance of dozens of flags. The Greek flag of the Provisional State of Greece set the single flag to symbolize the “Paradron of God Sophian, Freedom and Homeland” and was established to bear the cross and the colors blue and white as a symbol.

Gradually, however, the blue-white prevailed, resulting in an end to confusion due to the variety of colors and shapes.

On March 15, 1822, the Executive Body (Government), by Decree 540, designated three types of Flags: a Land Flag for the Navy and two Maritime Flags for the Merchant Marine. The Flag of the Land was square, blue, and carried a white Cross all over its surface. The Flags of the Sea had the same shape as the current National Flag. The only difference in the Merchant Navy’s Flag was the reversal of colors (blue instead of white) in the Cross position. The Flag of the merchant ships was likened to that of the warships in 1828 when it was recognized that the merchant ships had taken part in the war as warships.

In 1833 the Bavarian Armed Forces were added to the Flags of the Army and Navy, which was maintained until the overthrow of Otto in 1862. Upon the arrival of George I in 1863, the corpses that remained until 1924 were included in the Flags of the above corps.

Since 1864 the Flag for the Infantry Battalion consisted of silk fabric, bearing gold fringing around the center of the white cross, the image of its patron Saint George.
Today’s War Flags are the National Flag for the Navy, and for the Army and Air Force the type of rectangular blue with a white cross that extends to its sides dividing it into 4 equal parts. In the center of the Cross, the Flag of the Land Army bears the image of St. George and the Flag of the Aviation the image of Archangel Michael.

On February 20, 1930, a new decree on the shape of the Flag stated that the scale of the national flag was 2: 3. The official flag is ‘blue rectangle, also in 2: 3 aspect ratios, which is divided into four equal rectangles by a rectangular white cross whose antenna has a width equal to 1/5 the width of the flag’. The official flag was designated to be used by ministries of embassies, public or municipal services and fortresses and the national flag by war and merchant ships, naval and port shops and institutions, by consulates and by individuals. The decree also stipulated that the infantry flag should be used by infantry and evangelical regiments and that its web bears an oversized crusader gold ball with the constitution number on the front and the letter P on the back.

In 1967, the Colonel Junta removed the crown from the flags, and in 1969 a new resolution abolished the flag of infantry and established it as the official flag of the Navy. On August 18, 1970, the proportion of the flag was converted from 2: 3 to 7:12. After the Regime, Law 48/1975 and Presidential Decree 515/1975 regulated in detail the shape and dimensions of the flag.

The Greek flag is celebrated and honored on October 27, the eve of the “No” anniversary. The national flag of Greece is often found next to the state flag of the Republic of Cyprus. In some institutions, such as education and the military, the presence of the Greek flag is formal and regulated.

*The blue flag was also the coat of arms of the imperial flag of the Macedonian (9th – 11th) and Paleologian dynasties (13th – 15th century), as well as the throne of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

* The blue-white combination comes from the colors of the goddess Athena’s veil. * The particular colors were chosen from the cyan-white flags of Alexander the Great’s army or the cyan-white official attire of Byzantine officials or the imperial flag of the Paleologos. * Colors and shapes are borrowed from the flag of the famed chieftain Ioannis Stathas…

* The white color symbolizes the purity and good intentions of the Greeks who sought independence. The azure color symbolizes the sky of Greece, the heavenly power that helped this unequal Struggle end favorably for the Greek nation (this is the prevailing view). * Colors symbolize sky (cyan) and foam of sea waves (white). * The colors are the combination of navy blue and white fuchsia…

* The nine blue-white horizontal stripes contained the imperial flag of Nikephoros Fokas, which the Kallergides family retained on its coat of arms and flag, believing that it derived its origin from that emperor. * The nine horizontal stripes symbolize the nine Muses. * Parallel repeating stripes symbolize the sea and its ripples. * The horizontal stripes were selected according to the American flag standards (this is a view that is not serious). * The nine stripes are one for each syllable of the phrase “freedom or death” …

Greek Flags and Insignia