Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2012

Swedish flag

June 22, 1906: Sweden re-adopts their national flag. The flag is a rectangle of blue with a gold cross, offset but reaching to all edges. It is modeled on the Danish flag. Blue and yellow have been used as Swedish colors since King Magnus Birgerson first used them at his court in 1275. He was the first Magnus to rule Sweden and did so from 1275 until his death in 1290. According to mythology, in the 12th century, King Eric the Holy saw a yellow cross in the sky as his troops landed in Finland, on their way to the First Swedish Crusade. He adopted the golden cross on a field of blue, believing it to be a sign from God.

If the mythology is incorrect, it has also been suggested the flag may have been created as a resistance flag against the Danish standard. The Danish flag is red with a white cross. That flag has been in use since at least 1219. It is unknown when the Swedish flag was first used and there are several other starting dates. The 1275 date as discussed, or possibly a combination of that flag and the coat of arms for King Albert of Mecklenburg from 1364. It may have been introduced by King Charles Knutsson in 1442. It varied in design as coats of arms were added or subtracted. The cross was white prior to 1420. King Gustaf Vasa liberated Sweden from Danish rule in 1521 and the cross turned to gold.

There is a second flag – the war flag and naval ensign. It is also blue background with a yellow cross, but it is a triple tailed flag with the top and bottom triangles in blue and the middle tail reaching out in a continuation of the golden cross. On March 7, 1815 Sweden and Norway were united under one flag. In 1844, new flags were designed to give each of the two nations equal status in the union they shared. On this day, the new flag of Sweden was adopted with a lighter blue background than had been previously used.

There are several national flag days in Sweden. New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, May Day, Pentecost, and Christmas Day are holidays in other countries as well, However, Sweden also celebrates National Day of Sweden, Midsummer Day, Election Day to the Riksdag, United Nations Day, Gustavus Adolphus Day, and Alfred Nobel Day. Then there are six days based on the Royal family’s important days. There are two flags in the US modeled after the Swedish flag. The one for Wilmington, Delaware and the one for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Argentine football team’s flag was also based on the Swedish standard.

For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making. – Franklin Knight Lane

I am not the flag: not at all. I am but its shadow. – Franklin Knight Lane

If I fall, pick up the flag, kiss it, and keep on going. – Omar Torrijos Herrera

If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag; wash it. – Norman Thomas

Also on this day:

Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

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One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on June 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Sweden’s Adolf Gustaf VI said to me that his grandfather, Oscar II, had chosen the colors for Sweden’s flag “out of spite against Frederick (VIII)” , then ruler of Denmark.

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