Did you know that the flag of Poland has a long and storied history dating back over a thousand years? It is a symbol of national pride and unity for the people of Poland, and there are a number of rules that must be followed when displaying the flag.
The flag of Poland always takes precedence over all other flags. If multiple flags are displayed on a mast, the flag of Poland must be raised first and lowered last. Additionally, the flag must never touch the ground, water, or any other surface. It should not be used as a tablecloth or packaging for any object. When displayed publicly, the flag must be clean, and the colors must be clear and vibrant. They should not be wrinkled, torn, or faded. It is important to not display the flag in rainy or windy conditions, and it should be taken down immediately during severe weather such as thunderstorms or snowstorms.
Meaning of the Colors White and Red
The color selections of the flag are based on the colors of the Polish emblem, a white eagle on a red background, the official symbol of the state since the Middle Ages. If you are interested on how Poland became a country, please read my other article. The emblem’s symbol, the white eagle, is more important than the background, which is why the white color is at the top and the red at the bottom of the flag.
In heraldry, which is the science that tries to explain the genesis of flags and emblems, the color white represents silver, and can also mean water. It symbolizes purity, order, and nobility. The color red is a symbol of fire and blood, signifying courage and bravery.
If the colors are hung vertically, then white will be placed on the left side of the horizon seen from the front.
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White and red were first introduced as national colors in 1792. It was during the celebrations of the first anniversary of the May 3 Constitution. On February 7th, 1831, the Polish Sejm of the Kingdom of Poland approved a resolution that established white and red as the national colors. This was the first piece of legislation that formally approved our national colors. During the subsequent national uprisings, the white and red colors appeared on flags, posters, occasional prints, and postcards. In the middle of the 19th century, it became common practice to use small white and red flags in street demonstrations.
Poland’s Flag on a Flagpole
You are only allowed to place one flag on a flagpole. Within a group of flags, all flags must have the same width (height) and be placed at an equal height. The width of the flag on a standing flagpole must not be less than 1/6 of the height of the flagpole or more than 1/5 of the height of the flagpole.
Flag on a wooden stick: Every Pole has the right to display the national flag on his or her property. It is also allowed to fly it out of the window or on the balcony of one’s apartment. The width of the flag on the spar may not be less than 1/3 the length of the stick or more than 1/2 that length.
On Which Side Should the Polish Flag be Hung?
In the state rooms, when looking at the flag stand: the Polish state flag appears on the left, and the EU flag on the right. With three flagpoles, the middle one is the most important. The second is on its left, and the third is on the right (looking at the flags).
Difference Between Flag and National Colors
The lengths of the flag’s sides should be presented in ratio of 5:8. This proportion was established by the “Act of August 1, 1919, on Emblems and Colors of the Republic of Poland”. It remains in force to this day. As an example, when the flag is 1 meter high, it must be 1.6 meters wide. If it is not, then white and red constitute the national colors, but not the flag. Moreover, according to the law, for a flag to be called a flag, a rectangle must be displayed on a flagpole.
The Way the Colors Are Protected
Nowadays, everyone has a right to use the colors of the Republic of Poland, particularly to emphasize the importance of ceremonies, holidays, or other events, as long as proper honor and respect are maintained. It is forbidden to place inscriptions, such as those with city names, on red-and-white flags. The Criminal Code includes provisions regarding the protection of national symbols. For public insult, damage, or removal of a flag or emblem, there is a fine, penalty, or imprisonment.
Does Poland Have Two Flags? Plain One and The Other with The Eagle?
Yes, the plain flag is used in Poland as land-based identification sign. It features a rectangular shape. As explained earlier, in Poland, the national flag has two horizontal stripes of equal width, white at the top and red at the bottom. The proportions are 5:8.
The national flag with the eagle emblem has two horizontal stripes (white at the top, red at the bottom) and the National Emblem of the Republic of Poland, which is the eagle. The state flag with the emblem can only be used by Polish delegations and missions (including military missions) abroad, as well as by marine vessels, civilian airports, and civilian aircraft when flying abroad.
A Few Interesting Facts About The Flag
- On May 2, 1945, Polish soldiers conquering Nazi Berlin raised the white and red flag on the Victory Column – Siegessaule – and on the Reichstag.
- The first flags and banners representing the Kingdom of Poland featured a white crowned eagle on a red background.
- The royal colors of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a banner composed of three stripes: two red ones placed at the top and bottom, and a white stripe separating them.
- In the pre-partition period there was a tradition of three national colors: white, crimson and navy blue.
- In Poland, the state flag always has priority over all other flags. Whenever there are more flags displayed on the masts, the state flag of the Republic of Poland shall be raised to the mast as the first one and lowered as the last one.
- The flag must never touch the floor, ground, pavement, or water.
- The flag may not serve as a tablecloth or packaging for any object.
- When displayed in public, the flag must be clean and have visible colors. They cannot be crumpled, frayed, or faded.
- The flag can stay on the flagpole from dawn to dusk. If it is to remain for an extended period of time, it must be properly illuminated.
- The flag is flown at half mast on days of national mourning. It is hoisted to the top of the standing mast in the morning and then slowly lowered to half its height. In the evening, it is raised to the top of the mast and then slowly lowered completely and taken down.
- The flag should not be raised and displayed on rainy days or in very strong winds.
- During very strong winds, storms, and snowstorms, the flag should be lowered and taken down as soon as possible.
- The flag shall not be used to honor any person, nor shall it be bent in front of any other flag or sign.
- No inscriptions or drawings of any kind are allowed on the state flag of Poland – It has become common practice to put on the national colors the names of the towns from which sports fans come for sports competitions. In order not to violate the rules, such a banner can have the national colors, but it can not be a flag with a ratio of 5:8.
- A dignified way of destroying a worn flag is to burn it out of public view. You can also destroy the flag with dignity by separating the colors.