The flag of Belarus
The national symbols of any country stand for its sovereignty and independence. The coat of arms and the flag of one’s country symbolize one’s native land.
Our ancestors had to fight for their freedom and took part in many grand battles and armed conflicts. The needed to mark their regiments and to encourage the warriors on the battlefield lead to the development of the national flag, while the image of a mounted knight later evolved into the coat of arms of Belarus.
The white-red-white Belarusian flag
The initial flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) was first mentioned in the Chronicles in the late 14th century. The colors of the flag were not described, but according to one of the legends a wounded prince took off the bloodstained white bandage from his head and used it as a banner to lead the troops. The red and white colors are also explained as the colors of a human spirit (white) and the blood of Jesus Christ (red).
Some researchers suggest that it was first used by the Polish and Lithuanian cavalry in 1514 at the battle at Orsha. However, there is no historic document to confirm the use of such a flag in Belarus until the early 20th century. The white-red-white Belarusian flag was adopted after the February Revolution of 1917. The reason for this was the wide use of the colors in the Belarusian culture. In 1918 when Belarus was still under German occupation the People’s Republic of Belarus was proclaimed with the white-red-white flag and the Pursuit coat of arms being its symbols. When the Red Army replaced the German troops in Belarus, the government of the unrecognized BRP moved to Vilnius. The white-red-white flag was widely used by different political and civil society movements of Western Belarus.
In the course of the Great Patriotic War (the WWII, 1941-1945) when Belarus was occupied by the Nazi troops, the flag was adopted in the General Commissariat Belarus. The local collaborators who joined the Wermacht used this symbol – a fact that is often referred to by the opponents of the old Belarus flag today.
The modern Belarusian flag
The symbols of the GDL existed for quite a long period until Rech Pospolitaya – a union state with the Kingdom of Poland – was divided in 1795. The development of state symbols stopped when the Belarusian lands became a part of the Russian Empire.
A red flag with a green stripe at the bottom became the new Belarusian flag in 1951, when our country became a member country of the UN. It had similar features with the flags of other sister socialist republics which united the people of the vast multinational country.
Victory Square decorations for the 3 July festivities
In 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus adopted the Law on the State Flag of the Republic of Belarus that officially introduced the white-red-white Belarusian flag. However, after the referendum of 1995 it was replaced by the modern red and green Belarusian flag – an old Soviet one with minor changes. Since then the old Belarusian flag has been used by the political opposition and also during culture and sports events outside Belarus. The coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is the modern coat of arms of the Republic of Lithuania.
The modern Belarusian flag is quadrangular and is divided into two parts – the red one (two thirds of the flag) and the green one (one third). The part near the flagstaff is the red national pattern on the white background.
The Belarusian flag contains important information that every citizen of Belarus must know.
The red color of the Belarusian flag stands for the sun that symbolizes blood relation, brotherhood and the fight for a right cause. It symbolizes victory and happy life. The green color stands for the land – its fields and forests that occupied a significant part of Belarus. The green is the color of good, development, welfare and peace. The white is the color of freedom. According to one of the theories explaining the origin of the name of Belarus, the country was called White Russia (Belarus) in the old times because it had never been captured by the Tartars. The white is also the color of wisdom and spiritual purity that every Belarusian must possess.
Another significant feature of the modern Belarus flag is the red pattern. Our ancestors addressed the higher powers through different patterns that they wore on their clothes in the times when there was no written language. The pattern on the modern Belarusian flag is one of the oldest and most widespread ornaments – it symbolizes diligence as the basis for welfare. The rhomb at the center of the pattern stands for the goddess of earth and fertility. Surrounded with other signs, it calls for a good harvest, luck and fulfillment of good wishes.
Thus, the Belarusian flag tells us the history of the Belarusians and inspires to live in peace and friendship that will lead to welfare.
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