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Nordic cross flag

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Nordic flags, from left to right: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
A selection of various in-use Nordic Cross flags in Northern Europe region.
Larger flags, from left to right: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland;
Smaller flags, from left to right: Barra, South Uist, Yorkshire West Riding (historical), Orkney, Shetland, Scania, Åland, Pärnu, Setomaa (ethnic), Vepsians (ethnic).

A Nordic cross flag is a flag bearing the design of the Nordic or Scandinavian cross, a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the centre of the cross shifted towards the hoist.

All independent Nordic countries have adopted such flags in the modern period, and while the Nordic cross is named for its use in the national flags of the Nordic nations, the term is used universally by vexillologists, in reference not only to the flags of the Nordic countries but to other flags with similar designs.[1] The sideways cross is also known as the Cross of Saint Philip the Apostle, who preached not in Scandinavia but in Greece, Phrygia and Syria instead.

The cross design represents Christianity,[2][3][4] and was first seen in the Dannebrog, the national flag of Denmark in the first half of the 13th century. The same design, but with a red Nordic cross on a yellow background, was used as union flag during the Kalmar union (1397 to 1523), and when that union fell apart in 1523 the same design, but with a yellow cross on a blue background (derived from the Swedish coat of arms adopted in 1442), was adopted as national flag of Sweden, while Norway adopted their flag in 1821. From its adoption in the early 16th century until 1906 the background of the flag of Sweden was dark blue, but was changed to the currently used lighter shade of blue in a new flag law that was adopted in 1906, after the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway. After gaining independence the other Nordic countries adopted national flags of the same design, Iceland in 1915 and Finland in 1917. The Norwegian flag was the first Nordic cross flag with three colours. All Nordic flags may be flown as gonfalons as well.

Flag formats[edit]

Flags of the Nordic countries[edit]

Some of these flags are historical. Also, flag proportions may vary between the different flags and sometimes even between different versions of the same flag.

The Flag of Greenland is the only national flag of a Nordic country or territory without a Nordic Cross. When Greenland was granted home rule, the present flag — with a graphic design unique to Greenland — was adopted in June 1985, supported by fourteen votes against eleven who supported a proposed green-and-white Nordic cross.[5]






Kalmar Union[edit]

This is the historical flag of the Kalmar Union, which united Denmark, Sweden and Norway from 1397 to 1523. No pictorial evidence survives of the Kalmar Union's Flag. The flag appearing here is a reconstruction based on references in 1430 letters by King Eric of Pomerania.

Regional Nordic flags[edit]

Semi-official regional Nordic flags[edit]

Unofficial regional Nordic flags[edit]

These flags either do not have official status or represent various private entities. They have not been officially adopted and their use remains limited.

Nordic cross flags outside the Nordic countries[edit]







Nordic flag designs very similar to Denmark's, Sweden's, and Norway's national flags were proposed as Germany's national flags in both 1919 and 1948, after World War I and World War II, respectively. Today, the Nordic cross is a feature in some city and district flags or coats of arms.







Teutonic Order[edit]


United Kingdom[edit]

A number of flags for localities in the United Kingdom (primarily Scotland) are based on Nordic cross designs, intended to reflect the Scandinavian heritage introduced to the British Isles during the Viking Age and through the High Middle Ages.[10]

United States[edit]


Ethnic flags[edit]

Political flags[edit]

Sport societies[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ EnchantedLearning.com Archived 3 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine; Historical flags of the world: The Scandinavian cross Archived 2 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine; Eric Inglefield: "Fahnen und Flaggen" (translated to German by Dagmar Hahn), Delphin Verlag, Munich 1986, p.16
  2. ^ Jeroen Temperman (2010). State Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 978-9004181489. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 31 December 2007. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christianity, 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 (1996). The Australian Flag: Colonial Relic or Contemporary Icon. William Gaunt & Sons. ISBN 9781862871885. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 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 (2008). Iceland. Bradt. ISBN 9781841622156. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 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. ^ "Nu vajer det grønlandske flag over Danmark". 21 June 2016. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Kunstavisen på internettet – Artikler". Archived from the original on 2 October 2008.
  7. ^ In 1844, pro-German nationalists in the two duchies of Holstein and Schleswig created a blue-white-red tricolour as a symbol for independence which began to see widespread use. In 1845, Denmark responded by outlawing all other flags than the Danish one shown here. This ban was enforced as long as Denmark controlled the three duchies (Holstein and Lauenburg: effectively until 1863, Schleswig effectively until 1864.) Use of the Danish flag was in turn outlawed by the secessionist government that claimed the three duchies between 1848–1851.
  8. ^ "Grand Duchy of Oldenburg 1815–1918 (Lower Saxony, Germany)". Flagspot.net. Archived from the original on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Pegida und das Symbol der Hitler-Attentäter". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 3 August 2015. Archived from the original on 20 July 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  10. ^ Scots communities go Nordic in rising demands for their own flags Archived 11 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine HeraldScotland
  11. ^ "South Uist flag". Hebrides-news.com. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Isle of Barra's flag officially recognised". BBC News. 23 November 2017. Archived from the original on 30 December 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Vinland Flag: General Hate Symbols". Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  14. ^ Пюккенен, А. Ю.; Сыров, А. А. (2002). Что такое Ингерманландия? Краткое введение в историю ингерманландских финнов [What is Ingria? A short introduction to the history of the Ingrian Finns] (in Russian). Saint Petersburg.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  15. ^ Пюккенен, А. Ю. (30 May 2011). "Геральдика Невского края" [Neva region heraldry]. Санкт-Петербургские ведомости (in Russian). Saint Petersburg: АО Издательский дом «С.-Петербургские ведомости».
  16. ^ "Hur ser Svenskfinland ut om 100 år?" (PDF). Medborgarbladet (in Swedish). 61 (4). Helsinki: Svenska folkpartiet RP: 20. December 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  17. ^ Engene, Jan Oskar (10 March 1996). "Swedish speaking population in Finland". Flags of the World. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  18. ^ "Interfrisian flag". Groep fan Auwerk. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.


External links[edit]

Media related to Nordic Cross flags at Wikimedia Commons