Flag of Denmark

Flag of Denmark
Country Denmark
Population 5,910,913 (2023)
Area (Km²) 42,430 (2023)
Сontinent Europe
Emoji 🇩🇰
  hex rgb
#C8102E 200, 16, 46
#FFFFFF 255, 255, 255

The national flag of Denmark is well known all over the world under the name Dannebrog. A possible translation is "cloth of the Danes". In honor of the flag, there is even a color called "red Dannebrog". The Dannebrog has a bright red background and a white Scandinavian cross. The Scandinavian or Nordic cross can be found all over the map of Scandinavia, as well as in other regions of the world. The red-and-white design of the Danish flag makes it one of the most consistent designs of any country, although no one can identify who designed it.

What is the meaning of the Danish flag?

There is no official interpretation of the Danish flag, so its meaning stems from the legend and association with victory. The Danish flag reminds citizens that they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

  • The white color stands for purity, faith and clarity;
  • red is associated with strength and courage - something the Danes have in abundance;
  • the cross on the red background creates an impressive image and serves as a reference to Christianity, which is typical for Scandinavian flags. 

The history of the Danish flag makes it one of the most interesting national flags in Scandinavia. It is rare to find a country that loves its flag more than Denmark. Wherever you go, you will see people flying the flag outside their windows, in their gardens, and even on their Christmas trees.
Part of what makes the Danish flag so special is its history. Although experts remind us that there is no way to know which legends are true, the story of the Danish flag lives in the heart of every Dane.

The legend of the Danish flag

The story begins in 1219, although the legend itself dates back to the 16th century. According to it, Waldemar II of Denmark (Wald the Victorious) led a campaign in the region now known as Estonia. The stories recorded by Petrus Olai indicate that the battle did not go well. For some time, the Danes were convinced that they would lose the battle. However, the Danish bishop Anders Sunesen was not ready to give up. He stood on top of a hill overlooking the battle and prayed to God. While he prayed, the Danes began to regain their strength. When the bishop raised his hands, the Danes rushed forward and the Estonians retreated. Eventually, Anders Sunesen became so tired that he let his arms drop, and the Danes lost the advantage again.  With the help of two soldiers who helped him hold his arms, Anders continued the fight, and Dannebrog must have fallen from the sky in some miraculous moment. King Waldemar picked up the cloth and showed it to his soldiers. Obviously, their hearts were suddenly filled with strength and courage, allowing them to go forward and eventually win the battle. 
This story may seem a bit dramatic, but it is something that is very much in the hearts of the Danes. The story of Dannebrog is a source of local pride, and something that other countries have been trying to replicate for years. 
There is a story about the Swedish flag that very closely mimics the Danish legend. In this story, the Swedes say that during one of the battles, a golden cross appeared in the sky.
In 2019, the legend of the Danish flag turned 800 years old. The legend was first mentioned by historians in the early 16th century. Since 1913, the flag day (and the legend of its origin) has been celebrated every year on June 15, and the day itself was named "Waldemar's Day" in honor of the late king. On this day, the flag is raised all over the country.
Although King Waldemar's crusade did take place, the legend of the flag's fall is obviously not based on historical facts. However, this does not make it any less significant.

The evolution of the Danish flag

The evolution of the Danish flag

During the time of the North Sea Empire, the so-called Raven flag was used by Cnut the Great and many other Scandinavian rulers. According to the legend of the Danish flag, it first appeared in 1219 and had square proportions. At the same time, around the 1300s, there was the Royal Flag, which looked like a yellow banner with the coat of arms of the King of Denmark - three blue lions in crowns and red hearts around them. The Danish flag is considered to be the oldest, as it remained unchanged from the very beginning and was used throughout the time, except for the period 1397-1523, when the flag was the coat of arms of the Kalmar Union - a red cross on a yellow background. Although the year 1219 is considered to be the beginning of Danenbrog's existence, it is only a legend. The Danubebrog was officially recognized as the national flag in 1625. And even if we count its origin from this date, it still remains the oldest national flag in the world.
Today, the Danish flag is still frequently used by the royal family and government agencies. In addition, its use among the general public has increased significantly. The flag is practically everywhere - in very different occasions and with very different meanings. One of the most popular uses is to decorate birthday cakes and buns with small paper flags.