Blue Sky Over Golden Wheat Fields: Facts About the Ukraine National Flag
One year has passed since Russia’s terrible, all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023. The atrocities of war are beyond our comprehension here in Australia, yet they are a daily reality for millions of people. To commemorate the anniversary of the invasion, many rallies, fundraisers, concerts and other events will take place throughout Australia.
If you oppose this war and want to salute the heroic resistance of the brave Ukrainian people while at the same time raising awareness, you probably plan to attend some of these events. At such gatherings, most people proudly display the nation’s symbols, so in solidarity, you may also want to wave their recognisable blue and yellow banner. If you don’t have one, you can buy the Ukraine national flag from a specialised store.
Dominating the public’s attention in the past year, this is a flag with a complex history. Curious to learn more about it? Here are the facts behind the blue and yellow banner.
The contemporary Ukrainian territory was divided between the Russian and Austrian (later Austro-Hungarian) empires from 1772 until 1918. The origins of the flag can be traced to a meeting held in Lviv during the 1848 Revolutions, which designated (light) blue and yellow as the national colours of the Ukrainian people.
These hues gained popularity among the entire population, and after the Russian Revolution, they were adopted as the country’s flag during the Ukrainian People’s Republic of 1917–20. The banner had a blue and yellow background with a trident, a symbol of national unity and independence.
A new banner was installed after the country joined the Soviet Union on December 30, 1922. The Soviet Union was notorious for suppressing national identities, and Ukraine was no exception. The flag of the Ukrainian SSR was a red banner with a hammer and sickle, reflecting the Communist ideology and ignoring the people’s culture and history. It was used from 1949 until the country gained independence in 1991, and it serves as a reminder of the dark period in the nation’s history.
However, Ukrainians never gave up on their national symbols, and the banned flag of the People’s Republic remained a potent source of inspiration for nationalists. Despite being banned by the Soviet authorities, it was flown secretly by dissidents and played a crucial role in preserving the nation’s identity.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave the country an opportunity to assert its independence and adopt a new banner that would reflect its new identity. The current banner that we instantly recognise has two horizontal stripes of equal size, blue on top and yellow on the bottom.
This simple yet elegant design is rooted in the colours and symbols of the People’s Republic flag, and it represents the sky and the fields of Ukraine, the sun and the grain, and the unity and diversity of the nation.
Since then, the Ukraine flag has become a ubiquitous symbol of national identity and pride, and its use has extended beyond official ceremonies and state institutions. It is flown on the balconies and windows of private homes, on cars and bicycles, and even on tattoos and clothing.
The Role of the Ukraine National Flag in Key Events
The blue and yellow banner has also played a vital role in the country’s political and social life, especially in times of crisis and change. One such instance was the Orange Revolution of 2004 when people took to the streets to protest against election fraud and to demand a fair and democratic process.
The flag became a unifying symbol for the protesters, who dressed in blue and yellow clothing and carried banners with national colours. The sight of the sea of blue and yellow in Independence Square in Kyiv was a powerful reminder of the nation’s determination to defend its values and shape its destiny.
Another significant event where the banner played a pivotal role was the Euromaidan protests of 2013-2014. This time, the protesters rallied against the corrupt and authoritarian regime of President Yanukovych, who had rejected closer ties with the European Union and instead sided with Russia. The flag of Ukraine became a symbol of resistance against foreign influence and a call for a European and democratic future.
The Euromaidan protests culminated in the ousting of Yanukovych and the formation of a new government that pledged to pursue reforms and integration with the West. The national flag of Ukraine was raised once again, this time as a sign of hope and renewal. It became a part of the nation’s identity and a source of inspiration for those who believed in a better future.
However, like any national symbol, the blue and yellow banner is not without controversy, especially in the context of the ongoing invasion of Russia, the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas region. Russia has sought to discredit the Ukraine national flag as a symbol of fascism and nationalism and has used its media and propaganda to spread false information about the country’s history and identity.
Moreover, Russian-backed separatists have used their own banners and symbols to challenge the authority of the Ukrainian government and to promote their own agenda. Russia’s current offensive seeks to destroy this flag, and by doing so, history is being repeated once again.
In today’s context, this national symbol is more important than ever. It is a reminder that despite the challenges and obstacles that Ukraine faces, it remains a sovereign and independent state that has a rich and diverse culture, a vibrant civil society, and a resilient and dynamic economy.