"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flags, crosses and Nordic readers


From left, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark
 Writing a blog is about discovery, about always finding out things you didn't know before. Thus it was when a reader from Finland clicked this blog yesterday and today. Since I started running flags and maps of my readers, I began searching for the images, preferring a photo instead of just a graphic. Some are easy to find, and others difficult because of copyrights. Thus I came to this photo of the flags of the five Nordic countries, all carrying the Nordic, or Scandinavian, cross design.
There are stories behind them all, and Finland has the youngest flag, dating from 1917 when the country gained independence from Russia. Then I found out that Denmark's flag is recognized as the oldest continuously used national flag in the world of an independent country, dating from a 13th Century battle and legend. Denmark's flag obviously inspired the others.
Finland's flag, the blue cross on white, is as symbolic as the others. The cross is obviously for Christianity, with the blue for its sky and water, and the white for the snow  of the northern winter.
Iceland's first national flag was a white cross on a deep blue background. It was first shown in parade in 1897. The modern flag ----which I posted earlier--dates from 1915, when a red cross was inserted into the white cross of the original flag, when it gained independence from Denmark. The colors stand for the three elements that make up the island. Red is the fire produced by the island's volcanoes, white recalls the ice and snow that covers Iceland, and blue for the Atlantic Ocean.
Also posted earlier was the Swedish flag, the yellow cross on the blue field. It is probably descended from individual coats of arms, and dates from the 1400s. It is also possible it was a resistance flag against Denmark, and Sweden gained its independence from the Danes in the 1500s. 
Like many countries, Norway's flag has changed over the years. It is also an adaptation of a coat of arms.  The current flag was designed in 1821 when the country gained independence from Denmark. The blue perhaps comes from the Swedish flag, but others say the red, white and blue of the France and the USA were influences.



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