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Destination: why the flag of Norway is fluttering just about everywhere

Once you're on vacation in Norway, you'll notice the Norwegian flag fluttering quite a bit on all sorts of occasions. First and foremost, it's a sort of national pride (not to be confused with nationalism). That is because Norway is a fairly young country, with a long history of dependence and domination by other (Scandinavian) powers.

But there's also the use of a Norwegian pennant, indicating whether people are at home or not. Of course, this isn't something you'd see much in the larger cities, but in the countryside and areas where many Norwegians have their holiday cabins, you'll often see a Norwegian flag or pennant flying.

The Flag of Norway

And, it's widely used for marketing purposes; the brand 'Geographical Norway' you probably heard of? Beanies, sweaters, jackets, the lot. They all have Norwegian flags glued onto them...for some unfathomable reason.

Also, during the day of the Constitution, which takes place on May 17th, there's a kind of Red-White-Blue haze over the country. It's a delightful day, it really is. No military parades, but a parade for, and by the children. As they are seen as the country's future. What a country, right? If you ever consider coming here, it's not a bad idea to visit Oslo during may. Just saying.

Now a bit about the history of the flag. The Norwegian flag, commonly known as the "Flag of Norway" or "Norges flagg" in Norwegian, has a history dating back to the early 19th century. The design is a combination of a red background with a blue cross outlined in white that extends to the edges of the flag.

Did you know, by the way, that the Danish flag (a white Nordic cross on a red background) is the oldest continuously used flag in the world? It’s been continually in use since the early 14th century. Alright, back to the Norwegian.

The origins of the Norwegian flag can be traced back to the early 19th century when Norway and Sweden were in a union. The union between Norway and Sweden, known as the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, lasted from 1814 to 1905. During this time, the Norwegian flag went through some changes.

In 1821, a contest was held to design a new flag for Norway. The winning design, created by Fredrik Meltzer, featured a red field with a blue cross, similar to the current flag. However, it wasn't officially adopted at that time.

In 1825, the Union Mark was added to the flag to symbolize the union with Sweden. The Union Mark was a blue square in the upper left corner of the flag, containing the Swedish and Norwegian coats of arms side by side. This design was used until the dissolution of the union in 1905.

After Norway gained independence from the union with Sweden in 1905, the Union Mark was removed, and the flag adopted its present form. The red background represents the blood and sacrifice of the people, the blue cross signifies Norway's link to other Scandinavian countries, and the white border around the cross represents the country's commitment to peace.

The Norwegian flag has since become a symbol of national identity and pride, and it is displayed on various occasions, including national holidays and events. And more often so for joyous reasons, instead of well...nationalistic ones.

If you have any plans waving a Norwegian flag around while being here, please to take notice of the flag etiquette as states in the Norwegian flag law. Here are some key points:

  • Respectful Treatment: The Norwegian flag should be treated with respect and dignity. It should not be used for inappropriate or offensive purposes.

  • Correct Usage: The proportions and colors of the flag should be in accordance with official specifications. The red color should be a specific shade known as "Norwegian Red," and the blue cross should be a darker blue.

  • Flag Position: When displayed with other flags, the Norwegian flag should be given a place of honor. It is customary to raise the Norwegian flag first and lower it last when displayed with other flags.

  • Half-mast: The flag should be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. The decision to lower the flag is typically made by the government and may be done in the event of the death of a prominent figure or a national tragedy.

  • Flag Burning: Burning the Norwegian flag is generally not illegal, but it is considered highly disrespectful. It is not a common or accepted form of protest in Norway.

  • Commercial Use: The flag can be used for commercial purposes, but it should not be defaced or used in a manner that is disrespectful.

  • Private Use: Individuals are free to display the flag on their private property. There are no strict regulations governing the use of the flag by private citizens, as long as it is done with respect.


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