Danish Flag

danish flag dannebrog

The Danish Flag is called the Dannebrog (meaning "red cloth" or "Danish red cloth") and dates back to the year 1219. The flag of Denmark is one of the few flags in the world which has a name.

Dannebrog is the flag of Denmark and is the oldest national flag in the world that is still in use. The flag dates back to the 14th century. Read the story below.

It is bright red with a white Scandinavian cross. The design was so popular that other Scandinavian countries copied the design and have modified it over the years.

Danes are very patriotic and fly their flags on holidays, birthdays and most family celebrations. See below for popular flag flying days.

It is also flown on June 15 to celebrate the Battle of Valdemar, which was reputed to be the birth of the flag. Learn how to came to be below.

The Story Behind the Danish Flag

There is a popular myth that goes along with the history of the Danish flag. It is disputed whether it is fact or fiction, but nonetheles, Danes love telling the story of the Dannebrog.

The story goes: During the Battle of Lyndanisse, also known as the Battle of Valdemar (Volmerslaget) in Estonia, on June 15 1219, the flag fell from the sky during a critical stage, motivating the Danish forces into action and resulting in a Danish victory.

story of the danish flag

Some believe the battle was actually the battle of Fellin (Viljandi) in 1208, though this was a much smaller battle and does not have the same grandeur.

Whichever story you hear, neither one has much historical data to support it, but it makes for a great tale. Above you can see the famous painting by Christian August Lorentzen depicting the scene during the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219, where the Danish flag fell to earth.

Other Danish Flags

danish split flags

There is another version of the  flag called the Split Flag. It is the same design as the National Flag with a bit darker red and has a swallow tail design at the right end. The Split Flag may only be flown by the Royal Family or Danish government. There are a few exceptions, but permission must be obtained from the state.

There is a second version of the Split Flag, which is called the Orlogsflag. This flag is to be used only at sea.

The flag is different in that it uses a darker red than the Dannebrog red. The clean Orlogsflag is flown by the Navy and a few other other businesses and institions which have been granted permission.

If the Orlogsflag has a symbol or insignia inside it may be flown by other types of businesses, such as yacht clubs or sailing organizations.

Remember the Orlogsflag with no markings may only be used by the Royal Danish Navy. So don't fly it if you don't have special permission.

Flag Flying note: The general public should not fly a split flag; they should always use the standard square danish flag. The split flag is for use by the Royal family, government, navy or a few other institutions. You can be fined for flying a split flag. 

Flag Flying Days

Okay, first let's be clear. You do not have to fly the flag. It is not mandatory, but you will certainly see lots of danish flags flying around Denmark.

In fact, the market for flag poles and danish flags is big business in Denmark. Most homes have a huge flagpole in the backyard. In Denmark, they are called  flagstangen. Many home buyers are often offered free Flag Poles when they purchase a summer house.

People like to fly the Dannebrog when it is a family birthday, anniversary or special family occasion. Danish flags are also flown on national holidays and birthdays of the Royal family.

During the summertime when there are lots of festivals, city and town fetes, the streets may be lined with danish flags. You will also see buses, trains and other vehicles decorated out in flags.

When Flying the flag it is common to follow these guidelines:

  • The flag is raised at sunrise and lower at dusk (usually 0800 to about 1900). Never later than 2000.
  • Only fly a flag that is clean and undamaged. It is bad form to fly a torn or faded flag. The flag must be handled with respect, which includes not letting it touch the ground
  • When the flag is raised or lowered, it is common practice to do it slowly and respectfully. Often the whole family will gather around the flagpole and do it together. When putting the flag away it should be folded so that white cross is covered by the red cloth. Make a note of how flag is folded when you get it or ask any Dane.

What are those? As you walk along streets, especially in small villages, look down and you will see holes in the ground at regular internals. What are they for? Well, they are flag pole holes. During peak flag flying days, flag poles with flags will be inserted in these holes.

Now here are some days when you should fly the flag if you have one:

01 January - New Year's Day

05 February Birthday of Crown Princess Mary (1972) (married to Crown Prince Frederik)

06 February Birthday of Crown Princess Marie (1976) (married to Crown Prince Joachim)

(date varies) April Good Friday (flags should only be flown at half mast)

(date varies) April Easter

09 April Occupation of Denmark 1940. You start by flying your flag at half mast and then at 12:00 you raise the flag to full mast.

16 April Queen Margrethe 2 (1940) This is a "must" day for flag flying; you will see millions of flags being flown on the 16th!

29 April Princess Benedikte's Birthday (1944)

05 May Liberation of Denmark 1945

17 May Ascension Day

26 May Crown Prince Frederik's Birthday (1968)

27 May Whit Sunday

05 June Constitution Day

07 June Prince Joachim's Birthday (1969)

11 June Prince Henrik's Birthday (1934)

15 June Valdemar Day 25 December Christmas Day

I am sure there are other days when the flag should be flown, but this is all I can recall at this time. Will update if more come to mind or you can email me and refresh my memory.

The Royal children's birthdates are not listed, but I am sure you can fly your  flag on those days, too.

Remember, even if you fly a flag on the "wrong" day, no one will know. They will assume it is for a family celebration or event.

Be a Danish Patriot and FLY THE DANISH FLAG!

P.S. The flag must never be flown before sunrise and must be down by sunset. If you forget, some neighbor is sure to remind you!

Foreign Flags in Denmark

During the summertime, it is very common that many foreigners who come to Denmark for holidays, festivals, sporting matches and conventions will want to display their flags. At festivals, you may wish to hang your national flag so that others will know that their fellow countrymen are also in attendance. DONT DO IT! This is against the law and you will get fined. The only flags that you are allowed to fly without permission from the police are the Scandinavian flags (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland).

Most people will get a friendly warning, but fines are not uncommon. Leave your flags at home, since you won't be allowed to fly them anyway without fear of being fined!

Now this law does not apply to pennants, so if you have a pennant feel free to fly it. But don't be surprised if you are asked to take it down by locals who do not understand the difference between a flag and a pennant.

Return for more interesting Danish information.

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