Usually, a flag, a hymn, and a coat of arms are the highest representative symbols of a country. The most important, most probably, is the flag. In old battles, it was common, when one of the sides hostage a flag of the other one, the battle is over. Without a flag, there is no nothing, and there is no country without a flag. It is a really important symbol of nowadays because we imagine a country when we see its flag. They are inextricably linked.
The Slovenian flag is based on the pan-Slavic color pattern. Those colors were defined by the Prague Slavic Congress in 1848. Moreover, in the same year, the modern flag was raised on top of Ljubljana Castle. It became a symbol of freedom since then.
The most curious readers could notice that some flags have similarities in colors, and even in patterns. For example, there are pan-Arabic colors, pan-African, and the most interesting for us now, the pan-Slavic colors. In fact, there are almost a dozen countries in Europe that share common similarities in their flags. Sometimes, only small details make differences, which makes people confuse entire countries and nations, indeed. Undoubtedly, there are exact historical reasons leading to these consequences. The flag of Slovenia is such one. It has a lot of similarities with some neighbors as well as with more distant countries. Let’s find out why!
The Flag of Slovenia
The Slovenian flag consists of three horizontal bands: white, blue, and red. On the left side, there is a coat of arms centered in between the white and the blue stripes. In its turn, the coat of arms of Slovenia is the shield with the Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak. The proportion of sides is 1:2. The flag was adopted on 25 June 1991 by the Republic of Slovenia.
Those three colors were used on the coat of arms of the Duchy of Carniola for the first time. It was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, established under the Habsburg rule. After that, it was the land of the Habsburg Monarchy. Further, it became a constituent land of the Austrian Empire in 1804, and part of the Kingdom of Illyria until 1849. The capital of the duchy Ljubljana, which was called Laibach at those times.
The first appearance of the flag happened during the Revolutions of 1848, when the Slovene Romantic nationalist activist and poet Lovro Toman raised it on top of Ljubljana Castle, on 7 April 1848.
Therefore, the white, blue, red tricolor became the symbol of revolution. At first, it was used against Germans in the struggle for national identity, independence, and pride of being a Slovenian.
Other Variations of the Flag
The current Slovenian flag is being used from the very first day of Slovenian independence as a separate country. However, there are some other variations.
The flag that was raised on Ljubljana Castle during the revolution was similar to that used by Russia nowadays. On the other hand, its side ratio was 1:2 in spite of Russia’s one. After the revolution, the tricolor became associated as a nationalistic revolutionary symbol by Austrian authorities. Thus, the colors became prohibited. The only exception being the flag of the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia.
The flag was associated while Slovenia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as well. The second reincarnation was used on 26 September 1941 at the Stolice meeting of the Yugoslav Partisans. It became a symbol of the resistance movement again. At that time, they put a red star in the middle of the flag. It was a gesture for opposition to Nazi regimes, symbolizing unity with other socialist states. In 1945 a red star was officially placed on the flag of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, and it became a constituent of Socialist Yugoslavia.
In 2003, there was a campaign started by the Slovenian government. They were pursuing the enhancement of Slovenia’s international recognition. Moreover, they wanted to differentiate the flag from those of Russia and Slovakia. There were proposed some variations, including a vertical tricolor with the coat of arms on the left, a vertical tricolor with the coat of arms in the middle, an askew tricolor with the coat of arms in the left upper corner. The winner was an eleven-striped design, however, the public opinion used to be strongly against changing the flag.
The pattern of tricolor is used by some of the Slavic countries such as Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Russia. Definitely, those flags are often made confusion among people. On the other hand, other Slavic countries like Belarus, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Poland, and Ukraine have never adopted those colors. Formerly, it was used by The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, but those countries do not exist anymore.
In 1848, The Pan-Slavic colors were defined by the Prague Slavic Congress. This was an important historical event. It was the first official gathering in history from nearly all Slav populations of Europe in one place. The initiatives were Pavel Jozef Šafárik and Josip Jelačić, but the event itself was organized by Czech activists František Palacký, Karl Zapp, Karel Havlíček Borovský, and František Ladislav Rieger. It was held in three sections: Poles and Ukrainians, South Slavs, and Czecho-Slovaks.
Moreover, it’s important to mention that Slovenia and Slovakia introduced their flags in the same year it was approved by the congress. The flag of the Russian Empire, the prototype for Pan-Slavic colors, was introduced by Peter the Great in 1693. According to the traditional story, the Russian flag was actually a copy of the Dutch flag, with the colors swapped around. Peter was an admirer of the Dutch Republic. By the other version, one of his ministers proposed him to adopt it.
On the other hand, Russian and Dutch people are not the only ones who used white, blue, and red in their flags. They appeared in the French flag, and the British flag, and the American flag, and the Norwegian flag as well. This happened because those colors, they were the easiest and cheapest colors to make at those times. The chemical science wasn’t so advanced to produce easily such colors as light green, black, yellow, orange, etc.
To understand the importance of those colors, we need to understand that they became the colors of the new time for those people, the colors of gaining independence, the colors of emotions. Therefore, it happened that they have strong symbolizing background. Congress defined the main ideas. Hence, the red color represented for blood poured during the Slavic battles for independence from the countries they were parts of. The white color stood for purity. This meant that all the Slavic nations are separate and deserve their own country, land, symbols, history, language, and so on. Last but not least, the blue color represented prude and honor. All the fights were driven by people with big hearts and free minds. Thereby, nothing is without a sense.
The only country that had the tricolor on their flag and refused it is Montenegro. Indeed, it had a long story and a real reason for this. At first, Montenegro became independent only in 2006. Technically, it was the last country to exit Yugoslavia. This means that at that time they understood that a lot of countries used the tricolor as well as they wanted to be distinguished from Serbia, the country they separated from. Thus, Montenegro used a red background instead of the tricolor in order to put their national symbol, the coat of arms, the bird.
Therefore, while for some countries, the tricolor became a symbol of national identity, Montenegro avoided it in order to get national identification.
Raise Your Flag
A flag is an inevitable part of any country. Sometimes, it brings a history, a sense, into the outer world. On the other hand, sometimes countries create something new and unique in order to start a new life, “to begin their book from the very first page”.
For sure, the Pan-Slavic pattern was the consequence of the historical situation. All the Slavic nations were separated and experienced repressions while dealing with gaining a national identity. These colors were symbols of uniting with blood brothers in order to fight the repressors of each nation. After the Prague Congress, it happened the spring of nations. Countries started to be recognized.
For Slovenians, those colors mean a long story of gaining freedom as well. They experienced many of negativities in their history. There were several waves of emigration, and now there are approximately 0.5-1 million of Slovenian people living outside the country. After that, Slovenia experienced the consequences of World War I and World War II. Moreover, the Nazi regime touched the country as well. Only after that, they got only partial independence as a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Therefore, nowadays people are not willing to get rid of their typical national flag, even taking into account that a lot of people confuse them. They don’t want to “show off” in the international arena because they already got what they wanted for ages: independence. This is more precious than redesigning the flag in order to be more distinct. History is written by blood, and it cannot be changed for a matter of esthetics.