The History Behind the Greek Flag

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The Greek Flag also Referred to as the Γαλανόλευκη (galanolefki) or Κυανόλευκη (kyanolefki), the national flag of Greece consists of a white cross on a blue background in the upper left corner of the banner, with nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white.

The cross represents Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the official religion of the Greek nation and Cyprus. The flag always follows a proportion of 2:3. Officially, there is no appointed shade of blue, though many flags tend to feature dark or royal blue.

On the national flag of Greece, there are 9 blue and white stripes.  This number of stripes on the flag wasn’t just a randomly selected number. Some people believe that the number of stripes is because of the nine Muses (inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology).

The number of stripes on the “Blue and White” may also be for the most known belief which is that there are 9 syllabuses in the phrase “ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ Ή ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ” which translated to English means “Freedom or Death”. 

This phrase was adopted during the revolution against the Ottoman empire and was symbolising and is still inspiring the determination against the tyranny defying the fear of death like the Greeks did in 1821.

Another important fact about the flag of Greece is that it took its final design and colours on 22nd December 1978. Since then, the Greek flag has proudly flown over the sacred rock of the Acropolis in Athens.

In fact, during the Ottoman occupation and the first few years of the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), many flags were used by different people, with several featuring mottoes, emblems and even saints.

However, before the creation of this flag in the early 1820s, there were other flags to symbolize the Greek nation. Particularly popular was the flag of the 1769 uprising, with a blue cross on a white background.

This design was widely used in battles in the Greek Revolution of 1821. It was in this flag that the leaders of 1821, such as Theodoros Kolokotronis and Andreas Miaoulis, took the vow to fight for liberation.

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Such a flag is kept today in the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Kalavryta, where the Revolution was declared for the first time. Such a flag also stands over the Historical Museum of Athens, the building of the Old Greek Parliament.

But in an effort to rally the nation under one central administration, the Greeks chose the version of the flag that we know today, which dates back to 1822, a year after the new state declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

The flag is of course also encountered and saluted in every Greek person’s home – no matter whether this is in Greece or in any other country the person resides in.

Opera House

Greek Independence day celebration in Sydney Australia.