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The Icelandic Flag

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The Icelandic flag as we know it today was officially taken to use in 1915. When Iceland officially became a republic on the 17th of June in 1944, The Law of the National Flag of Icelanders and the State Arms, became the second law to pass in the new republic of Iceland. In the law the flag is described as such “The civil national flag of Icelanders is blue as the sky with a snow-white cross, and a fiery-red cross inside the white cross”. 

The flag’s creator, Matthías Þórðarson, drew inspiration from Iceland’s stunning natural beauty in crafting a symbol that would resonate with generations to come. The original flag was blue with a white cross but the Danish king preferred the three coloured version in order to avoid confusion as the Greek had a similar blue and white flag. 


What do the colours of the Icelandic flag mean?

Even though the colours of the Icelandic flag have no official symbolism, it is a popular interpretation that they represent the three elements that created the island: fire, ice and water.

  1. Blue:
    The primary hue of the Icelandic flag is a deep shade of blue. The blue is said to represent the mountains, the ocean and the sky surrounding the island.
  2. White:
    The pure white stripe is meant to symbolise the glaciers and the snow-capped mountains that adorn Iceland´s rugged terrain.
  3. Red:
    The striking red cross represents the elements of fire. It serves as a tribute to the fiery volcanic activity that has shaped the island’s landscape over the centuries.

 

The evolution of the flag

Þorskafáninn – The Cod flag

þorskafáninn

In 1809 a Danish adventurer named Jørgen Jørgenssen sailed to Iceland, declared the country independent and pronounced himself its ruler. He then went on to design a flag for the Icelandic nation to use. The flag was blue with three cod in the upper left corner and has ever since been referred to as Þorskafáninn or The Cod flag. 

Fálkafáninn – The Falcon flag

In 1873 an Icelandic artist named Sigurður Guðmundsson designed a new flag that he thought would be a better representation of Iceland than the cod. He wanted to replace the cod with a falcon to be used both as the flag as well as the national code of arms. The flag was never officially recognized, but it was widely used amongst Icelanders, both in Iceland as well as amongst the many Icelanders who moved to Canada in the late 1800s. 

Hvítbláinn – The White-blue

hvítbláinn

In 1897 a known writer and scholar, Einar Benediktsson, suggested that the Icelandic nation should have a flag more representative of its Christian state and that it would be more like the flags of the other Nordic nations. He suggested a blue flag with a white cross. In the early 1900s the Icelandic people started using the Hvítblái flag more and more instead of the Danish one. This continued until 1913 when the Danish king decided that Iceland should have its own flag. However, he found the white and blue flag of Einar Benediktsson too similar to the Greek flag and therefore he chose a three-coloured flag that Matthías Þórðarson suggested in 1906. 

The current flag

A flag committee was formed in 1913 to oversee the design of a flag for Iceland. The committee received a total of 28 designs. Finally on 19th of June 1915 the Danish king declared the blue, red and white flag the official flag of Iceland and when Iceland finally became a republic on 17th of June 1944 the use and look of the flag was passed in the law. Ever since, Iceland has proudly been represented by a blue flag, with a red and white cross. 

 

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