Scandinavian cross

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The national flags of the Nordic countries all use the Scandinavian cross. From left to right respectively; the flag of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Scandinavian cross is the term for a type of cross in vexillology, proliferant in the Nordic Cross flags, hence the name. However, Scandinavian crosses do not only appear in flags in the Nordic countries but all around the world and the term is used universally by vexillologists.[1]

The cross design, which represents Christianity,[2][3][4] is depicted extending to the edges of the flag with the vertical part of the cross shifted to the hoist side, rather than centred on the flag.

The first flag with the design was the Danish Dannebrog; thereafter, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and some of their subdivisions used this as inspiration for their own flags. The Norwegian flag was the first Nordic cross flag with three colours. Though the flags share this pattern, they have individual histories and symbolism.[5]

Flags outside the Nordic countries that feature the Scandinavian Cross or a similar design[edit]




United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]

Other countries[edit]


  1. ^; Historical flags of the world: The scandinavian cross; Eric Inglefield: "Fahnen und Flaggen" (translated to German by Dagmar Hahn ), Delphin Verlag, Munich 1986, p.16
  2. ^ Jeroen Temperman. State Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 88. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christainity, on their national flag. The so-called Scandinavian crosses or Nordic crosses on the flags of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden–also represent Christianity. 
  3. ^ Carol A. Foley. The Australian Flag: Colonial Relic or Contemporary Icon. William Gaunt & Sons. Retrieved 2007-12-31. The Christian cross, for instance, is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in the world, and many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland, adopted and currently retain the Christian cross on their national flags. 
  4. ^ Andrew Evans. Iceland. Bradt. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Legend states that a red cloth with the white cross simply fell from the sky in the middle of the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar, after which the Danes were victorious. As a badge of divine right, Denmark flew its cross in the other Scandinavian countries it ruled and as each nation gained independence, they incorporated the Christian symbol. 
  5. ^ Znamierowski, Alfred (2002). The world encyclopedia of flags : The definitive guide to international flags, banners, standards and ensigns. London: Hermes House. pp. 103 and 134. ISBN 1-84309-042-2.