Fun With Flags

Ode to the flag

Let's take a look at some of the most interesting (and symbolic) flags from countries around the world and learn a little bit more about the history behind them.

South Korea

Since the 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea we'll start with this flag, also known as Taegeukgi (which translates to "supreme ultimate flag"). It is white (representing land and peace) with a red and blue yin-and-yang in the middle.

The blue is negative while the red is positive, balancing each other out to create perfect harmony. There are also four trigrams in each corner of the flag, which are said to represent earth, fire, water, and heaven. The basic building blocks of life, no?

Iceland

Iceland's flag is made of a blue background that represents the Atlantic Ocean. It also has a large red cross which signifies lava and volcanoes, while the white around the cross represents glaciers. That's a lot of natural disasters for one country.

It is said that the flag's red cross relates to Denmark, as well (according to flagpedia.net), which "dominated Iceland since the 14th century."

Brazil

Brazil's flag has a green background (symbolizing green fields) with a yellow diamond (meaning wealth) and a blue circle with white stars in the middle of it.

The color blue illustrates the "sky of Rio de Janeiro on the night of Nov. 15th 1889" (according to v-brazil.com), the night the First Brazilian Republic prevailed, while the stars refer to each Brazilian state. Across the center of the blue circle, there is a motto, Ordem e Progresso that translates to "Order and Progress" and refers to philosopher Auguste Comte's quote: "Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress the goal."

Mexico

The Mexican flag consists of three colors: green, white, and red. Each color symbolizes a certain significant element: Green means hope, white relates to unity, and red refers to blood. In the center of the flag, there is a coat of arms (or a shield) with an eagle sitting on a prickly pear cactus while eating a rattlesnake.

This goes back to an old Aztec legend where a god told a tribe leader to set up a community once he came across this eagle. In 1325, the leader and his tribe saw the eagle while crossing through Tenochtitlan, or as we call it today, Mexico City.

South Africa

Noted as "one of the most colorful flags" (study.com) around the globe, the South African flag is made up red, white, blue, black, yellow, and green—but it also has plenty of symbolic meaning to back up its vibrancy.

Black, yellow, and green refer to Nelson Mandela's Pan Africanist Congress, while the red, white, and blue symbolize the European colonists of Great Britain and the Dutch settlers. All the colors work together to reflect the diversity of people in South Africa, while the Y shape signifies unity. How peaceful.

Finland

With a white background and blue cross (which is off-centered), Finland's flag has a similar look to Iceland, but it conveys different meanings.

The color blue relates to blue skies and sparkling lake waters, while the white symbolizes the snow (this area is known to receive quite a bit . . .). The cross is said to relate to Christianity, which is the country's main religion.

Spain

The Spanish flag is made up of two red bands (located on the top and bottom) with a yellow band in the center. The crown-topped pillars of Hercules coat of arms sits on the left-hand side of the yellow band with a Latin motto, Plus Ultra, meaning "More Beyond" (referring to Columbus and his voyages).

There are mixed ideas about what the colors of the flag symbolize. Some think the yellow means generosity and the red means bravery, while others say the red is "the blood" of a bullfight and the yellow is the "sand of the arena" (spain-flag.eu). Maybe that's symbolism they're trying to steer away from due to the bull-fighting controversy as of late.

Canada

Canada's flag has the iconic maple leaf in the center, which deals with "unity, tolerance, and peace" (mapleleafweb.com) There are several conclusions as to why the country chose a maple leaf, one being that the color red (along with white that is also found on the flag) symbolizes Canada's national colors.

It's also been said the maple leaf was simply easier to draw than a beaver, another symbol of Canadians during the fur trade in the 1800s.

Madagascar

Madagascar's flag consists of a white vertical strip on the left side and two horizontal strips (one green and one red) on the right. Each color signifies something different, such as red relating to sovereignty, green meaning hope (and the coastal regions), and white symbolizing purity.

Some believe the flag also relates to the country "yearning for independence and traditional classes" as it separated from France on June 26, 1960 (worldflags101.com).

United States

As for the flag of the United States, it showcases red and white stripes with a blue square and stars located in the top corner. The color white indicates "purity and innocence" (usflag.org), while red marks "hardiness and valor," and blue signifies "vigilance, perseverance, and justice."

The actual stripes stand for the original colonies and the stars represent the states. And, now you know.