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Rules for displaying flags

Last modified: 2013-12-07 by rob raeside
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Displaying flags in Europe

I noticed when I lived in Europe, Italy to be precise (in the beautiful city of Bergamo) that flag display is much more rare than here in the US, where flags are displayed abundantly and in every conceivable fashion.

Well, that depends very much on which region you live in. I think the two extremes would be Germany and Norway.

Germans in general seem to be afraid to display their flag, still because of the trauma of WW II. Moreover, a German waving his flag in the Netherlands could get lynched (so to speak), and I think that if he would do that in France, local people wouldn't be very happy about it either. I cannot remember I ever saw a German flag at a German home.

In Norway, flags are raised literally for every occasion, including birthdays, Christmas and Easter. And on their national holiday (17th of May), it is the only thing you can see. The reason for this is that Norway is still a 'young' state, that is, it still wants to confirm itself as an independent state, and hasn't had problems like Germany has.

In the middle, you can find countries like for example Belgium, the Netherlands and France, where flags are displayed occasionally, like on national holidays, but not too often. You know that something special is going on if the flags are displayed at homes.

Mind you that ethnic minorities practically everywhere result in prohibitions of flag display. More than fifty years ago, waving the Flemish lion could be a dangerous thing to do in Belgium, and could wreck your career etc... Nowadays that flag has been adopted as the official flag of the Flemish community and Flemish region, as Belgium started dealing with the Flemish question in a more mature way. I expect/hope the same thing to happen in Transylvania some day...
Filip Van Leanen, 02 October 1995

This doesn't explain why Iceland, Sweden and Denmark are also national flag crazy. In Iceland the smallest hut is likely to fly the flag whilst in Sweden most of the street furniture appears to yellow and blue national colours - in fact this national pride even extends to the IKEA stores on British shopping complexes!

Maybe "and hasn't had problems like Germany has" is more significant.
Max J. Hunt, 03 October 1995

I noticed when I lived in Europe, Italy to be precise (in the beautiful city of Bergamo) that flag display is much more rare than here in the US, where flags are displayed abundantly and in every conceivable fashion. A new trend has begun, flags of bright colors with artistic motifs of flowers, birthday cakes, or words of welcome. These hang on short poles near the doors of houses, and are not flown on poles or masts. They are mainly decorative, and have the role of festive banners.

Alex Justice, 28 September 1995

Displaying flags in New Zealand

New Zealand's a young country too, which might explain it, but I don't think I could picture our Town Hall, railway station or other major public buildings without national and city flags waving from them. And many larger businesses fly bioth their corporate flag and the national flag. The Town hall during festivals or other important events tends to fly several different flags (from different, equal flagpoles, of course) - the city and national flags, plus those of several other countries (usually the U.K., Scotland - this city was settled by Scots - USA, Canada and Australia). Dunedin also goes in for street banners a lot, so on a windy day, there's a lot of fabric in the air!
James Dignan, 3 October 1995

Flag-banning law in city of Raleigh, North Carolina

The city of Raleigh, North Carolina, in the U.S., passed a law a few years ago prohibiting the flying of any flags other than those of the U.S., North Carolina, and the city (whose flag is similar to that of Peru but with the city arms in the white part). Apparently this was done to prevent one neo-Nazi from flying a Nazi flag at his house. Some religious groups and businesses objected because it also prevented them from flying their church or business-logo flags, and I believe that an adjustment was made, at least for the religious groups.
Bruce Tindall, 28 September 1995

I thought the US Supreme Court ruled that no banning of this type was permissible. The very famous case of the (extremely small) Nazi party in Chicago which obtained, after long struggle and much public debate, the right to march in a suburb mainly inhabited by people of Jewish extraction and religion. The debate over this issue continues in US society. Technically, the Nazi flag is not banned here as in Germany, and many people believe that to ignore the manifestation of symbols is better than suppressing them. This is not to say that the evil of the philosophy should be ignored, or the revision of history many here would like to practice.
Alex Justice, 28 September 1995

Folding Flags

How does one fold a fringed American flag? Is the procedure the same, or does it change because of the fringe?
Ed Haynes, 22 October 1999

The question of folding a fringed flag, requires the asking of the question: "Why is it being folded?" Normally a fringed flag is displayed permanently attached to an indoor or parade staff. For storage the flag is rolled up on the staff and cased.

If for some reason you are storing an unstaffed flag, yes fold it has you normally would.
Nathan Bliss, 22 October 1999

We fold fringed flags only for storage prior to sale, repair or cleaning. They are folded into rectangles and either boxed or poly bagged.

There is no reason to fold one into the traditional triangle, instead they should be furled, tied to the pole with the cord and tassels and then cased.

The triangle fold was invented for the easy handling of the large garrison flags on US Army Posts in the 1890's. It then spread to the other services and eventually to civilian use largely through the activities of patriotic service clubs and later the Boy and Girl scouts. It was originally a practical solution to the problem of how to handle large flags, later symbolism and traditions were attached to the activity.
James J. Ferrigan III, 22 October 1999