The flag of Poland has a simple design that consists of two horizontal bands of equal size. The upper band is white and the lower one is red. These two colors are the national colors of Poland and they are defined in the constitution of the nation. The flag is in the proportion of 5:8. The official adoption of the first national flag happened in 1919 while the current design was adopted on January 31, 1980. The white color in the flag represents peace and hope for all citizens while the red represents the many struggles for freedom over the centuries.
Variants of the Polish Flag
Officially, the Coat of Arms Act, not the Constitution, defines the national flag. In the act, there are mentions of two variants namely the commonly used national flag and another variant containing the coat of arms. The first definition states that the flag of Poland will be a rectangular piece of fabric that has Poland’s colors and is raised on a flagpole. The act also states that the flag of Poland will be what is contained in the first definition and contains the Polish coat of arms on the middle of the upper white band.
The nation chose to use the two flags back in 1831, which are based on the coats of arms of the two nations that made up the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth. In the coat of arms, a white eagle represented Poland while a white knight represented the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Both of these representations were against a background of a red shield.
Uses for the National Flag
The flag that does not have the coat of arms is flown in certain official buildings, as defined by the law. These offices include the likes of the Senate, the office of the nation’s president, the cabinet, the prime minister’s office, and a few others. The variant containing the coat of arms is flown in places such as civilian heliports and airports, civilian airplanes, Polish offices in other nations (such as embassies), and a few other places.
The flag is flown in the whole country four times every year. These days are May Day on May 1, Polish Flag Day on May 2, Constitution Day on May 3, and Independence Day on November 11. Polish Flag day is a relatively young holiday after it was first observed recently on May 2, 2004.
The reason for the establishment of the Polish Flag Day was to provide education to the citizens about the rich history and importance of the national Polish symbols. The choice of the date was made to overlap with the Polonia Day that is observed by the Senate on May 2 and by Polish citizens in the diaspora. After the day was established, the Polish flag flies for three consecutive days from May 1 to May 3.
Other days when official state buildings have to fly the flag include Europe Days between May 5 and May 9, the Polish Armed Forces Day on August 15, and the Polish Underground State Day on September 27. Important events such as international athletics events, the FIFA World Cup, official state visits by important figures, and a few other occasions also merit flying the flag.