Saturday, December 2, 2017

This Week In Vexillology #239

We're kicking off December with our Second Trifecta of World Cup 2018 Qualifiers! Yes, we've got Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland. (Of our six, I think France has the potential to make the deepest run, but Belgium has ridiculous amounts of talent that didn't really go anywhere in Brazil, so I feel like if they don't go deep, it'll be disappointing. South America is getting gloriously deep these days, so while I'm bummed Chile didn't get in, I'll be cheering for Colombia instead!)

First up: Colombia!
Adopted on November 26, 1861 as the national flag and ensign, the flag of Colombia is the brain child of both Goethe and Fransisco de Miranda and once upon a time was part of Miranda's vision of a united 'Gran Colombia' which encompassed Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador (and I guess Panama too?) which is why you see the yellow-blue-red combinations running across all three countries. Historically, the color combination is due to something that Goethe told Miranda: "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colors are not distorted." (There's a more in-depth explanation on the flag's wiki-page, but needless to say- it's complicated and has something to do with philosophy and how the iris transforms all light into shades of yellow, blue and red.)

The colors, thankfully do have their own meanings beyond complicated philosophical ones. The yellow stands for the riches of the country, the wealth of Colombian soil, gold, sovereignty, harmony, justice, agriculture and the Sun. Blue is for the seas on the along Colombia's coast, the rivers that run through it and the sky above it. Red is for blood spilled in the fight for independence, the effort of the people, the determination and perseverance and despite the fact that Colombia and her people have had struggles, they've also thrived.

All in all, pretty cool flag. I like that they sort of twist on the tricolor a little bit by giving the yellow more room in the flag than the other two.

Next up: Belgium!
I actually like the official proportions of this because I think it helps the flag standout from France and Germany- if that makes sense? Anyway, this bad boy was adopted on January 23rd, 1831 as the national flag. The roots of this flag go back to the August Revolution of 1830, where Belgium went to the opera and promptly decided they were sick and tired of this French and Dutch business and decided to riot and start their own country. Inspired (one hopes) by the July Revolution in France the month before, they initially flew the French tricolor from Brussels City Hall, but quickly replaced it with this flag.

The color combination comes from the Duchy of Brabant and a horizontal tricolor of red-black-yellow was used during the Brabant Revolution of 1789-1790, which briefly established a 'United Belgian States' before Austria knocked that shit off in their usual Hapsburgian fashion. (For like a half a second before France and their revolutionary wars sort of spilled over and occupied the place.) While that Revolution didn't fly, the memory of it lasted and proved to be a big influence on the Revolution of 1830 that got the job done once and for all and created an independent Belgium.

Finally: Switzerland!
The flag of Switzerland is one of two square national flags- the other being Vatican City. The various cantonal flags of Switzerland follow the model of the national flag and are square as well. There's no fancy symbolism to be found here, just a deep historical origin that has a couple of possible roots. First, there's the Theban Legion connection... basically, that was a Roman legion that converted to Christianity enmasse and was martyred enmasse for it's trouble. The Arma Christi, which were venerated by the forest cantons and which they were allowed to use in 1289 during a campaign somewhere. Or, it was first seen at the Battle of Laupen to differentiate troops of the Old Swiss Confederacy from those of the Habsburgs, which used a red cross and the St. Andrews Cross used by Burgundy.

Whatever the explanation, the white cross on the red banner has been a symbol of the Swiss for centuries now- and as one of the two square national flags out there I think we can all agree that it is very hip to be square.

And thus concludes our second World Cup 2018 Trifecta (which also, conveniently updates my 'Lost Archives' a bit as well.) Remember, until next time, keep your flags flying. FREAK or otherwise!

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