A Vexillogical View of the Norwegian Flag

syttende mai 2011

Is “vexillology” a new word for you? It certainly was for us when it cropped up on “The Big Bang Theory” as one of Dr. Sheldon’s passions. Vexillology refers to the study of flags and related emblems. We’re talking about the Norwegian flag.

The Romans were the first to use cloth flags, attached to the top of poles, to indicate the location of officers on the battlefield. A flag’s design and colors are significant to its country. The flags of the five Scandinavian countries all bear the Nordic cross which represents Christianity. The Norwegian flag, for instance, is red, white, and blue. Red for hardiness, bravery, valor; white for peace and honesty; and blue for vigilance, truth, loyalty and justice.

The Norwegian flag was designed in 1821 by Fredrick Meltzer, who was a member of Norway’s parliament. A previous flag combined the Danish flag with a Norwegian lion to show the close connection between the two countries. By 1821, however, Norwegians were ready for a flag that was distinctly their own. Meltzer’s striking design was soon adopted. Seeing images of Syttende Mai (Constitution Day) marches, we think the choice was a good one.


 Among the flag-flying holidays in Norway are February 21 (the king’s birthday), May 17 (Constitution Day), and July 29 (St Olaf’s Day).

Here at Ingebretsen’s we celebrate all things Scandinavian and we have an extensive variety of items related to flags. Scandinavians are always ready to celebrate their nations’ histories and traditions. We can help you celebrate with our many flags, in many sizes.  We also have wind socks, flag garlands (for Christmas trees), vimples (long narrow pennants — great for the mast of your sailboat), napkins, jewelry, clothing (even soccer shirts in adult and kid sizes), winter wear, mugs, stationery, and more with flag motifs.  Flags on toothpicks, any one? They’re  perfect for cheese cubes on an appetizer tray or a special  dessert like kransekake.


Planning a Syttende Mai party?  Or perhaps a Midsummer party?  Dazzle your friends not only with your broad vocabulary  but also with your authentic party decor.  Table flags and napkins are in stock and ready to  ship.  Check them out at our website   ingebretsens.com.

(Would you like some line drawings of Norwegian flags and maps for children to color? Click here.)

– Virginia Fuhrken