Like any flag in the world, the Slovenian flag has an entire history behind it. The flag is a horizontal tricolor of white, blue, and red with a Slovenian coat of arms on the hoist side. Each part of the flag tells a story of freedom, peace, joy, and union.
The current Slovenian flag was adopted in June 1991, based on the original white-blue-red flag of 1848. The flag evolved into one with a red star as the country became a part of Socialist Yugoslavia. Following the independence of Slovenia from Yugoslavia, the new nation adopted the new coat of arms.
If you’re going to Slovenia, knowing the story of the nation’s flag can help you appreciate the country a little bit more. Here’s the beautiful story of the Slovenian flag and how it became the symbol of the country’s freedom.
A Quick History of Old Slovenia
Before looking at the details of the Slovenian flag’s history, we need to give context to Slovenia’s national history. By knowing a little of its past, we can understand the paths that the country took.
During its early history, the area of modern-day Slovenia was a central crossroad across European countries. The lands of the country were part of several empires and dynasties, in particular the Holy Roman Empire.
The locale during the Roman times divided between Venetia Et Histria, Pannonia, and Noricum. It is no secret that the Romans established outposts in several cities in Slovenia, including Emona in Ljubljana, Poetovio in Ptuj, and Celeia in Celje.
Other empires like the Byzantine Empire, Carolingian Empire, Holy Roman Empire, and many more once occupied a piece of the country.
By October 1918, the country instituted the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. By December of the same year, the country merged with the Kingdom of Serbia. The country became the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929.
Even a century before this merging, the first flag of Slovenia came to fruition.
White, Blue and Red: The First Slovenian Flag
The historical Slovene colors are a horizontal tricolor of white, blue, and red. Many sources, including several Slovenian authors, believed this was in solidarity with fellow Slavic people during the Napoleonic Wars. This mistake made sense at the time, as Serbia and Bulgaria at the time followed the same design.
This idea was, however, inaccurate.
The first Slovenian flag flew on April 7, 1848, on a building between Prešeren Square and Congress Square in Ljubljana. This flag went up with the movement of patriotic students led by Lovro Toman. Toman was a nationalist revolutionary activist and a known Slovenian poet.
The flying of the first historical flag of Slovenia was in response to the flight of the German flag over the Ljubljana Castle.
The colors of this flag of Slovenia came from the Duchy of Carniola’s coat of arms. The coat of arms of the Duchy of Carniola is a blue eagle on a white field, with a crescent of red and gold.
The Duchy of Carniola was a state in the Holy Roman Empire, coming from what is today known as Kranjska. The origin of their coat of arms comes back to the noble family of the Counts of Andechs.
The new flag received a dire rejection from local ethnic Germans. Even then, it was recognized on a regional level as the official flag of Carniola. The recognition lasted from 1848 to 1918 from the Austrian government.
This recognition was controversial at the time for several reasons. The official recognition of the Carniolan white-blue-red flag allowed Slovenians from all historical regions to dream of a United Slovenia.
Loss of Identity and Division: Slovenian Flags During World Wars
By 1918, the tricolor flag received its last use in 1918, adopted by the Slovene nation that joined the State of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes from 1918 – 1929. During this time, the formation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia banned the use of the flag.
During the country’s incorporation into Yugoslavia, the entire kingdom used the Slavic flag using Slavic colors. This time, it was blue, white, and red. Everything changed once World War II broke out.
During the war, the national colors of Slovenia went into use for the Partisan Resistance Movement and the Slovene Home Guard.
The Partisan Resistance Movement was the main anti-fascist resistance force in Slovenia at the time. They waved the traditional flag of Slovenia emblazoned with a red star in the middle.
This flag came from the Stolice meeting of Yugoslav Partisans on September 26, 1941. The other flag carried by Slovenia was that of the Slovene Home Guard.
The Home Guard is the anti-communist militia of Slovenia. Though called the “Home Guard”, the militia received its sanction from Nazi Germany’s occupational forces.
The Slovene Home Guard flew the traditional white-blue-red flag of Slovenia. Added near the hoist side is the coat of arms of the Carniola. By the end of the war, the official flag of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia changed yet again.
The Star of The Socialist Republic of Slovenia
In 1945, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia flew the flag styled after the Partisan Resistance Movement. The new flag of the Socialist Republic had the same red star in the center of the white-blue-red. The only difference is the gold trim around the red star.
This new flag flew over Slovenia until 1990, the year when Slovenians pushed for democracy. In 1987, people started cries for democracy and more Slovenian independence.
A three-year political bout pushed to induce parliamentary democracy to the country. By March 1990, the Slovenian Assembly changed the official name of the state to the Republic of Slovenia.
By June 25, 1991, Slovenia’s independence became official. Two days later, the new design of the Slovenian national flag flew. The flag became controversial, mostly due to the new coat of arms.
The design of the new flag removed the red star and emblazoned a coat of arms on the hoist side. This design came from Marko Pogačnik, a Slovenian author and artist.
Understanding The Elements of The Slovenian Flag
Every element of the new Slovenian flag offers different aspects of the country itself. As we all know, the white, blue, and red colors signify not as unity with other Slavic neighbors but as the historic colors of the Duchy of Carniola.
The new coat of arms received criticism for having no real meaning, but that’s false. The new coat of arms has two important elements to it: the Triglav mountains and the three six-pointed stars.
The Triglav mountains came from the design styled by the Osvobodilna fronta since 1943. The money issued by the Liberation Front featured the triple peak of the Triglav. The wavy lines below the mountains represent the sea, while the mountains represent inland Slovenia.
The three stars come from the coat of arms of the Counts of Celje. Their coat of arms is a shield with three stars set two and one on a blue field.
New Symbols For A New Slovenia
In 2001, a proposal came about as a plead for new symbols of Slovenia. Changes for the flag, coat of arms, and even the name of the state came into motion. This initiative came from the ruling Liberalna demokracija Slovenije part of Jožef Skoljc.
The support for the changes to Slovenian representation came from a need for more identifiable symbols for the country. The people who forwarded the proposals wanted the country to move away from other transitional nations in the world.
The state was also trying to remove themselves from the confusion with Slovakia. Their flag was almost identical, only with a differing coat of arms. The official competition for new symbols of Slovenia came in June 2003.
The first prize went to Dušan Jovanovič, a designer from Koper. The winning design was blue, white, and red stripes, with the traditional pattern of the Triglav in the middle and mirrored by the waters of Slovenia underneath.
Even then, the change has not yet moved due to divided public opinion. Many Slovenians are split in the middle about the potential changes.
Some critics note that the judgments are only from a design point of view. They note how little of the cultural or historical point of view of the flags and symbols came into account.
The Slovenian Flag and Its Undying Fight For Independence
The Slovenian flag is a burgeoning symbol of the history of Slovenian people. The history of the Slovenes coincided with the many changes to its banner. From its time as a regional domain of the Austrian government to its independence, the flag of Slovenia flew all over its people.
More than a symbol, the Slovenian flag is the representation of the people’s story. The story of their push towards freedom and the unique identity of Slovenians showed up everywhere. From peace to joy and unity, Slovenia has come to terms with the symbols of its history.
If you’re visiting Slovenia, knowing the history of the flag will help you appreciate its people some more. Every corner you look, you will see the hard work its people gave to reach where it is now.
Are you ready to see Slovenia? Visit Slovenia now and see all the good tidings that the locals built for themselves. Get yourself a tourist guide who can help you see the beautiful piece of the world locals now call Slovenia.