"If you want a symbolic gesture, don't burn the flag; wash it." - Norman Thomas
The motive behind discovering a flag was for the purpose of passing signals/gestures and for identification of a troop. In wars, flags were used to convey messages to the opposition party i.e., of making peace, surrendering or charging for a fight etc.
National flags have a wide variance of colors and their combinations. There lies some cause behind the selection of the colors, the design (stripes, crosses and bands) and the symbols (star, sun, crescent etc) embedded in the flag. There might be some false stories as well created on the history of some flags. It is difficult to say how much the truth in these stories is since these things do not have much relevance in today's context.
Country Flag Color Combinations
It may be noted that region-wise, there are similarities in color combinations used by some nations.
- Red, White and Blue are common between a few countries in the European nations like Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Serbia, UK and Slovenia etc.
- Some African countries like Cameron, Congo, Guinea, Benin, Ghana, Mali and Niger etc have a common combination of green, red and yellow.
- Some Arab nations like Palestine, Jordon, Kuwait, UAE and Syria etc have common combination of red, white, green and black.
- There is a similarity in the design of the flags of Sweden, Denmark and Iceland who represent the Nordic countries. These countries also are known to have comparable cultural qualities.
- The sun, star and crescent are common symbols seen among the nations in the Asian continent.
Every color symbolizes some characteristics, as we can see with the following examples of some common colors:
- Black: the color symbolizes a purpose for some countries, for some it is victory over the oppositions or for some it represents cultural inheritance.
- Blue: This color symbolizes liberation, determination, good fortune, alertness etc.
- Green: The color green symbolizes agriculture as well as the green revolution in one's motherland. It is found to be commonly associated with the Muslim religion.
- Red: The color symbolizes power, vibrancy, revolution and war (since it is the color of blood).
- White: White is a soft color that symbolizes purity, peace and harmony and is also a sign for surrendering oneself to the enemy.
- Yellow: It is the color of gold and the sun. It symbolizes wealth and energy. It also means happiness for some.
The countries have chosen the color combination that suits best with the description of their motherland. In many cases, similar combination of colors is just a mere coincidence.
Meaning Behind Flags of Different Countries
Let us now look into the color significance of a flag in more depth by quoting the following examples:
The American Flag
- The thirteen red stripes (alternating with white stripes) represent the thirteen colonies that revolted with British realm.
- The fifty stars stand for the fifty states.
The Indian Flag
- The Indian flag broadly depicts three colors in layers; the uppermost is the saffron, middle is white and the lowermost is the green color.
- The saffron color signifies the sense of patriotism, white signifies purity and peace while green signifies the agricultural richness of the country.
- The Ashoka Chakra, embedded in the white layer, signifies the historical gravity that is deeply rooted in the country.
The Austrian Flag
- The red and white flag of Austria was designed in remembrance of the blood stained coat of the Duke during a battle.
The German Flag
- The flag of Germany with colors black, red and golden represent the uniform of the German soldiers.
The Chinese Flag
- The red color means communism.
- Gold symbolizes the Chinese yellow race.
- The great golden star symbolizes the ruling communist party.
- The four little stars represent the four classes among the people in China.