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Learn about Finland’s national flag, its symbolism



The Finland flag has a rich history and significance for the people of Finland. It is not merely a beautiful symbol. From the Nordic Cross to the hues it contains, every element of the flag has significance. If you’re interested in learning more about the meaning of the Finland Flag and its elements, keep reading as we reveal a wealth of information.

What is the Finland flag?

What is the Finland flag?

The Finland flag, also known as the “Siniristilippu” in Finnish, is a beautiful rectangular national emblem that represents the country of Finland. It appears with a blue Nordic cross on a white background. Though it may look simple, it carries a deep sense of pride and history for the Finnish people.

The blue cross that reaches from one edge of the flag to the other, both horizontally and vertically, creates four equal blue rectangles in each corner. The rest of the flag is plain white.

The Finland flag is required by law to have a certain size ratio of 11:18, which is strikingly similar to the golden ratio—a symbol of artistic harmony. The flag’s proportions are set by this ratio, which also ensures that it is balanced and visually appealing.

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A variation of the flag with somewhat longer tails that reach up to five units in length is the swallow-tailed state flag.

The flag’s blue cross has a cusp width of three units of measurement, resulting in particular horizontal and vertical ratios of 5:3:10 and 4:3:4.

The recommended breadth of a flag, when flown from a flagpole, is one-sixth of the height of the pole. This regulation makes sure that when the flag is flown from flagpoles of different heights, it keeps its correct proportions.

The Ministry of the Interior may advise flying the flag at half-mast across the nation as a symbol of respect and sadness following significant national disasters.

Raising the flag on Midsummer’s Eve at 6 p.m. and lowering it on Midsummer Day at 9 p.m. is a unique ritual observed in Finland. This custom represents the endless sunshine that Finland enjoys on Midsummer’s Night—a distinctive and treasured feature of the nation’s topography.

In addition, midsummer is observed as the “Day of the Finnish Flag”, highlighting the significance of this flag to Finnish culture.

There are three main ways that the Finland flag is used, and each has a different purpose and meaning:

  • National flag: The standard national flag is available for use by all individuals, groups, and regions of Finland. Anyone is free to fly the national flag, however, they see appropriate since it is a symbol of pride and solidarity for the country.
  • State flag: Only the rectangular state flag is flown by different national and local governmental entities. Along with non-naval state boats, it is also flown by the cathedral chapters of the national churches of Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox.
  • Swallow-tailed flag: The Finnish Defence Forces are the ones who fly the national flag with swallow-tails, which doubles as a naval ensign. This flag is a symbol of the nation’s military prowess and readiness.

Finland Flag History

Finland Flag History
Old Finland Flag

The Finland flag has a rich history that tells the story of Finland’s struggle for independence and its unique identity.

The very first “Flag of Finland” appeared in 1848 alongside the unofficial national anthem, “Maamme“. This flag had the coat of arms of Finland in the middle, surrounded by laurel leaves, all on a white background.

The design we know today, with the blue cross on a white background, started showing up in Finland in 1861. It was first used by a yacht club called Nyländska Jaktklubben in Helsinki. Their flag had the crowned arms of Uusimaa province in the upper hoist quarter. This design was somewhat similar to the flag of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which had been founded the year before. The blue cross on a white background can be traced back to the Russian Navy flag, which also had a blue cross on white.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), Finnish merchant ships captured by the British-French fleet flew a flag called the “Flag of St. George”. This flag was based on the Russian Customs flag but had a thinner cross and equal proportions.

In 1910, as part of Russia’s efforts to influence Finland, they wanted to add a Russian flag to the Finnish flag. However, this idea faced strong resistance and most Finns refused to fly it. Instead, they used a triangular pennant without modification to avoid following this decree.

After Finland gained its independence in 1917, a competition was held to create the national flag. Different designs were submitted, with some using red and yellow from the Finnish coat of arms and others using the now-familiar blue and white colours.

Ultimately, two artists, Eero Snellman and Bruno Tuukkanen, came up with the final design for the flag. It was based on a design by the poet Zacharias Topelius from around 1860.  The chosen design had a blue Nordic cross on a white background, symbolising Finland’s thousands of lakes and snowy landscapes.

The Finnish state flag went through some changes over the years. In 1922, the coronet was removed and in 1978, the shield-shaped coat of arms was changed into a rectangular shape.

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Finland Flag Meaning

Finland Flag Meaning

The citizens of the country, which is located in northern Europe, place a great deal of importance on the Finland flag. It has a very specific significance in context. The Finland Flag’s meaning is broken down as follows:

  • Blue and white colours: The Finland flag is made up of two main colours: blue and white. These colours have special meanings that connect deeply with Finland’s natural beauty and history.
  • Nordic connection: The design of the Finland flag, with its blue Nordic cross, shows that Finland is part of the larger Nordic family. This includes countries like Sweden and Norway. It highlights the cultural and historical ties that Finland shares with its Nordic neighbours.
  • Independence and unity: The Finland flag has a significant historical meaning. It was officially adopted in 1918 when Finland declared its independence from Russia. At that moment, it became a symbol of freedom and unity for the Finnish people. It represented their determination to stand on their own as a sovereign nation.
  • Simplicity and beauty: The simplicity of the flag’s design is also meaningful. It reflects the Finnish appreciation for simplicity and elegance in all aspects of life. The blue cross on the white background is a beautiful representation of Finland’s landscape and its straightforward, no-nonsense approach to things.

The Finland flag is not just a piece of cloth, it is a beloved emblem of the nation. It is flown high during national celebrations, sports events and important occasions. It is a source of pride for the Finnish people, reminding them of their rich history and their enduring love for their homeland.

Finland Flag colours

Finland Flag colours

The vibrant colours of the Finland flag set it out as a representation of the country’s pride and natural beauty. Every colour has a deep significance and conveys a tale that is firmly ingrained in the history, culture, and landscapes of Finland.

This piece explains the meaning of the flag’s two primary colours: the “sea blue” and white.

1. Blue – “Sea Blue”

  • The blue colour in the Finland national flag is often described as “sea blue”. It’s not a very dark navy blue, nor is it a bright or greenish shade like turquoise or cyan.
  • You can think of it as a dark to medium blue, reminiscent of the deep Finnish lakes and the clear blue sky on a sunny day.

2. White

  • The white part of the flag symbolises the snowy landscapes of Finland, especially during the long and chilly winter months. It’s a reminder of the snow-covered forests and fields that make Finland unique.

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