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Flag of Denmark

The Dannebrog. This version, known as the Stutflag, is used for civilian purposes. Proportions: 28:37

The national flag of Denmark, the Dannebrog, is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side. The cross design of the Danish flag was subsequently adopted by the other Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. During the Danish-Norwegian personal union, the Dannebrog was also the flag of Norway and continued to be, with slight modifications, until Norway adopted its current flag in 1821.

The royal Danish yacht is named after the flag.

The legendary origin of the flag

The legend of the flag is very popular among Danes, but most consider it to be a legend though a beautiful one. The legend says that during the Battle of Lyndanisse, also known as the Battle of Valdemar (Danish: "Volmerslaget"), near Reval (Tallinn) in Estonia, on 15 June 1219, the flag fell from the sky during a critical stage, resulting in Danish victory.

Dannebrog falling from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse, 15 June, 1219. Painted by Christian August Lorentzen in 1809. Original located on Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark

No historical record supports this legend. The first record of the legend dates from more than 300 years after the campaign, and the first record connects the legend to a much smaller battle, though still in Estonia; the battle of Fellin (Viljandi) in 1208. Though no historical support exists for the flag story in the Fellin battle either, it is not difficult to understand how a small and unknown place is replaced with the much grander battle of Reval from the Estonia campaign of King Valdemar II.

This story originates from two written sources from the early 16th century.

The first is found in Christiern Pedersen's "Danske Krønike", which is a sequel to Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, written 1520-1523. It is not mentioned in connection to the campaign of King Valdemar II in Estonia, but in connection with a campaign in Russia. He also mentions that this flag, falling from the sky during the Russian campaign of King Valdemar II, is the very same flag that King Eric of Pomerania took with him when he left the country in 1440 after being deposed as King.

The second source is the writing of the Franciscan monk Petrus Olai (Peder Olsen) of Roskilde, from 1527. This record describes a battle in 1208 near a place called "Felin" during the Estonia campaign of King Valdemar II. The Danes were all but defeated when a lamb-skin banner depicting a white cross falls from the sky and miraculously leads to a Danish victory. In another record by Petrus Olai called "Danmarks Tolv Herligheder" (Twelve Splendours of Denmark), in splendour number nine, the same story is re-told almost to the word, however a paragraph has been inserted correcting the year to 1219.

Whether or not these records describe a truly old oral story in existents at that time, or a 16th century invented story, is not currently determined.

Some historians believe that the story by Petrus Olai refers to a source from the first half of the 15th century, making this the oldest reference to the falling flag.

The continuation of the romantic legend

The story of the original flag has a continuation that many Danes are not aware of.

According to tradition, the original flag from the Battle of Lyndanisse was used in the small campaign of 1500 when King Hans tried to conquer Dithmarschen (in western Holstein in north Germany). The flag was lost in a devastating defeat on 17 February 1500. In 1559, King Frederik II recaptured it during his own Dithmarschen campaign. In the capitulation terms it is stated that all Danish banners lost in 1500 were to be returned.

One of Hans Knieper’s heroic paintings of Danish kings from 1585. King Erik Menved storming a castle. Note the two Danish flags. Original located on Kronborg Castle.

This legend is found in two sources, Hans Svanning's History of King John from 1558-1559 and Johan Rantzau's History about the Last Dithmarschen War, from 1569. Both claims that this was the original flag, and consequently both writers knew the legend of the falling flag. In 1576, the son of Johan Rantzau, Henrik Rantzau, also writes about the war and the fate of the flag. He notes that the flag was in a poor condition when returned.

Sources from Dithmarschen, written shortly after the battle of 1500, do mention banners, including the Royal banner, being captured from the Danes, but there is no mention of Dannebrog or the "original" flag. It is quite plausible that the king’s personal banner as well as the leading banner of the army were both lost, as the battle was led by the King himself. However, it is more questionable if he indeed was carrying the "original" flag.

In a letter dated 22 February 1500 to Oluf Stigsøn, King John describes the battle, but does not mention the loss of an important flag. In fact, the entire letter gives the impression that the lost battle was noting more than an "unfortunate affair".

An indication that we are dealing with multiple flags, are the 1570 writings of Niels Hemmingsøn regarding a bloody battle between Danes and Swedes near the Swedish town of Uppsala in 1520. He writes that the "Danish head banner" ("Danmarckis Hoffuitbanner") was nearly captured by the Swedes. It was saved only by the combined efforts of the banner-carrier Mogens Gyldenstierne, taking multiple wounds, and a young man coming to his rescue. This young man was Peder Skram. This "Danmarckis Hoffuitbanner" was probably nothing short of the "Banner of the Realm'" (Rigsbanner), the Dannebrog.

This is however not the end of the story. A priest and historian from Dithmarschen, Johan Neocorus, wrote in 1598 that the banner captured in 1500, was brought to the church in Wohrden and hung there for the next 59 years, until it was returned to the Danes as part of the peace settlement in 1559. Henrik Rantzau states in his writing of 1576 that the flag was brought to Slesvig city and placed in the cathedral, following its return.

A historian from Slesvig, Ulrik Petersen (1656-1735), wrote in the late 17th century that the flag hung in Slesvig cathedral till about 1660 until it simply crumbled away, thus ending its more than 400-year-old story.

Historically, it is of course impossible to prove or disprove that these records speak of the same flag. If the flag of 1208 or 1219 ever existed. Many of these legends are apparently built on earlier ones.

Other theories of the origin of the flag

Other origin theories have been put forth in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The Danish flag from the front page of Christiern Pedersen’s version of Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, 1514. Full frontpage can be seen here.

Theories of the origin of the flag, #2

The Danish historian Caspar Paludan-Müller in 1873 in his book "Sagnet om den himmelfaldne Danebrogsfane" put forth the theory that it is a banner sent by the Pope to the Danish King to use in his crusades in the Baltic countries. Other kings and lords certainly received such banners.

One would though imagine that if this story was true, some kind of record ought to exist of the event and presumably Danish historians would not have failed to mention it in some way. Being granted a banner by the Pope would have been a great honour, but despite the many letters of the popes relating to the crusades, none of them mentions granting a banner to a King of Denmark. On the other hand, the letter in question might simply have been lost.

Theories of the origin of the flag, #3

A similar theory was suggested by Danish explorer, adventurer and Captain Johan Støckel in the early 20th century. He suggested that it was not a pope banner to the King but a pope banner to the Churchly legate in the North, more specifically to archbishop Andreas Sunesøn, which he - without the knowledge of the King – brought with him on the King's crusade in the Baltic countries, in an effort to make the army take on a Christian symbol (over the king's symbol) and thereby strengthen the power of the church.

It is unlikely that the very fair and loyal archbishop would do such a thing behind the king's back. Moreover, it is unlikely that the pope would send such a banner, given the fact that they already had one, namely the banner of the Knights Hospitaller (Danish: "Johanitterne").

Theories of the origin of the flag, #4

A theory brought forth by the Danish historian Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen in 1875 in his book Danebroges Oprindelse, is that the Danish flag is the banner of the Knights Hospitaller. He supports his theory with that the order came to Denmark in the latter half of the 12th century and during the next centuries spread to major cities, like Odense, Viborg, Horsens, Ribe and their headquarters in Slagelse, so by the time of the Baltic crusade, the symbol was already a known symbol in Denmark.

Furthermore he claims that Bishop Theodorik, already a part initiator of the order in Livonia, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, had the idea of starting a similar order in Estonia and that he was the original instigator of Bishop Albert of Buxhoeveden inquiry to King Valdemar II in 1218, that set the whole Danish participation in the Baltic crusades in motion.

In the contemporary writing of the priest Henry of Livonia from Riga it is said that Bishop Theodorik was killed during the 1219 battle, as the enemy stormed his tent, thinking it was the King's tent. Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen explains that it was Bishop Theodorik who carried the flag, well planted outside his tent, thus as an already well-known Knights Hospitaller symbol in Livonia, the enemy thought this was the King's symbol and mistakenly stormed Bishop Theodorik tent. He claims that the origin of the legend of the falling flag comes from this confusion in the battle.

Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen does not give an explanation how the white Maltese cross on red of the Knights Hospitaller, found its way to the Danish flag of 1219, given the fact that in that time it was a white cross on black. The Knights Hospitaller is a monk-order and used black dresses. The white on red warrior-cloak cannot be traced until later.

Theories of the origin of the flag, #5

The Danish church-historian L. P. Fabricius put up yet another theory. It is explained in his study of 1934, titled "Sagnet om Dannebrog og de ældste Forbindelser med Estland'". In this study he put the location to 1208 Fellin and not the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219, based on the earliest source available about the story.

He says in this theory that it might have been Archbishop Andreas Sunesøn's personal ecclestical banner or perhaps even the flag of Archbishop Absalon. That is based on his tireless efforts to expand Christianity to the Baltic countries and that under his initiative and supervision several smaller crusades had already been conducted in Estonia. The banner would then already be known in Estonia. He repeats the story about the flag being planted in front of Bishop Theodorik's tent which the enemy mistakenly attacks believing it to be the tent of the King.

All these theories centre on two battles in Estonia, whether it is in Fellin (1208) or Lyndanisse (1219), and thus try to explain the origin in relation to the tale brought forth over 300 years after the event.

Theories of the origin of the flag, #6

A much different theory is briefly discussed by Fabricius and elaborated more by Helga Bruhn in a book from 1949. She claims that it is neither the battle nor the banner that is central to the tale, but rather the cross in the sky. Similar tales of appearances in the sky at critical moments, particularly of crosses, can be found all over Europe.

Bruhn mentions a battle (also mentioned by Fabricius) taking place on September 10, 1217 between Christian knights and Moor warriors on the Iberian Peninsula near the castle Alcazar, where it is said that a golden cross on white appeared in the sky, to bring victory to the Christians. Likewise an almost identical Swedish tale from the 18th century about a yellow cross on blue appearing in 1157 during a Swedish battle in Finland. Probably a later invention to counter the legendary origins of the Danish flags, but never the less of the same nature. The English flag, the Saint George's Cross is also claimed to have appeared in the sky during a critical battle, in this case in Jerusalem during the crusades.

The similarities to the legends is obvious. In Spain, the colours of the Pope appears in the sky, in Finland the Swedish colours. In Estonia it is the Danish colours, and in Jerusalem the English colours. Basically, these are all variations of the same legend.

Since King Valdamar II was married to the Portuguese princess, Berengaria, it is not unthinkable that the origin of the story, if not the flag, was the Spanish tale or a similar tale, which again might have been inspired by an even older legend.

Earliest recorded use of the flag

One of the seals of Erik VII, 1398. Note the Dannebrog banner in the coat of arms

Danish literature of the 13th and 14th centuries remains suspiciously quiet about the national flag. Whether the flag has its origins in a divine sign, a banner of a military order, an ecclesiastical banner, or perhaps something entirely different, Danish literature is no help before the early 15th century.

However, several coins, seals and images exist, both foreign and domestic, from the 13th to 15th centuries and even earlier, showing flags similar to the Dannebrog. In the 19th and early 20th century, these images were used by many Danish historians, with a good flair of nationalism, trying to date the origins of the flag to 1219. However, if one examines the few existing foreign sources about Denmark from the 13th to 15th centuries, it is apparent that, at least from foreign point of view; the national symbol of Denmark was not a red-and-white banner but the royal coat of arms (three blue lions of a golden shield.) This coat of arms remains in use to this day.

An obvious place to look for documentation is in the Estonian city of Tallinn, the site of the legendary battle. In Tallinn, a coat-of-arms resembling the flag is found on several buildings and can be traced back to the middle of the 15th century where it appears in the coat-of-arms of the "Die Grosse Gilde", a sort of merchant consortium which greatly influenced the city's development. The symbol later became the coat-of-arms of the city. Efforts to trace it from Estonia back to Denmark have, however, been in vain.

The national Coat of Arms of Estonia, three blue lions on a golden shield, is almost identical to the Coat of Arms of Denmark, and its origin can be traced directly back to King Valdemar II and Danish rule in Estonia 1219-1346.

Earliest undisputed link

Page 55 verso in the Dutch book Wapenboek Gelre. Displaying the earliest known undisputed colourized image of Dannebrog

The earliest source that indisputably links the red flag with a white cross to a Danish King, and to the realm itself, is found in a Dutch register of coats-of-arms “Wapenboek Gelre”, written between 1340 and 1370 (some sources say 1378 or 1386). Most historians claim that the book was written by Geldre Claes Heinen. The book displays some 1700 coats-of-arms from all over Europe, in colour. It is now located on the Royal Library of Brussels (the "Bibliothèque royale Albert Ier").

On page 55 verso we find the Danish coat-of-arms with a helmet on top with horns. On the right horn is a Danish banner. The text left of the coat of arms says “die coninc van denmarke” (The King of Denmark). This is the earliest known undisputed colour rendering of the Dannebrog.

This image has been used to acknowledge a previously disputed theory that the cross found in Valdemar Atterdag's coats of arms located in his Danælog seal ("Rettertingsseglet") from 1356 is indeed the cross from the Danish flag.

This image from "Wapenboek Gelre" is near identical found in an old coats of arms book from the 15th century now located in the National Archives of Sweden, ("Riksarkivet")

From Queen Margaret I and King Erik VII time we also have a case that undisputedly links Dannebrog to Denmark. The royal seal of King Erik VII from 1398 - the first combined coat of arms found in Denmark - shows the flag twice; the cross that separates the four coats-of-arms is the cross of the Dannebrog and the coat of arms representing Denmark show the three lions holding a Dannebrog banner.

Origin and meaning of "Dannebrog"

From King's banner to National flag

Laws and flag variations

Denmark does not have a specified flag law, but various regulations and rules spread out over many documents, from King Christian IV's time till today, can be found. The quest to unite them into a specified flag law have been brought forth many times, especially in the 20th century, but it never amounted to anything.

National flag

The size and shape of the coufhordie flag ("Koffardiflaget") for merchant ships is given in the regulation of June 11, 1748, which says: A red flag with a white cross with no split end. The white cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. The two first fields must be square in form and the two outer fields most be 6/4 lengths of those.

The proportions are thus: 3:1:3 vertically and 3:1:4.5 horizontally. This definition are the absolute proportions for the Danish national flag to this day, for both the civil version of the flag, "Stutflaget", as well as the merchant flag ("Handelsflaget"). Both flags are identical.

A somewhat curious regulation came in 1758 concerning Danish ships sailing in the Mediterranean. These had to carry the King's cypher logo in the center of the flag, to distinguish them from Maltese ships, due to the similarity of the flag of the Order of St. John (a.k.a. the Knights Hospitaller). To the best of knowledge, this regulation has never been revoked, however it is probably no longer done.

According to the regulation of June 11, 1748 the colour was simply red, which is common known today as "Dannebrog rød" ("Dannebrog red"). The only available red fabric colour in 1748 was made of bracken root, which make a brownish red. The private company, Dansk Standard, regulation number 359 of 2005, defines the red colour of the flag as Pantone 186c. No official nuance definition of "Dannebrog rød" exists.

During the next about 150 years nobody paid much attention to actually abide fully to the proportions of the flag given in the 1748 regulation, not even the government. As late as 1892 it was stated in a series of regulations that the correct lengths of the two last fields in the flag were 6/4. Some interested in the matter made inquires into the issue and concluded that the 6/4 length would make the flag look blunt. Any new flag would also quickly become unlawful, due to wear and tear. They also noted that the flag currently used had lengths, of the last two fields, anywhere between 7/4 to 13/6.

So in May 1893 a new regulation to all chiefs of police, stated that the police should not intervene, if the two last fields in the flag were longer than 6/4 as long as these did not exceed 7/4, and provided that this was the only rule violated.

This regulation is still in effect today and thus the legal proportions of the National flag is today anywhere between 3:1:3 width / 3:1:4.5 length and 3:1:3 width / 3:1:5.25 length.

That some confusion still exists in this matter can be seen from the regulation of May 4, 1927, which once again states that Danish merchant ships have to fly flags according to the regulation of 1748.

Splitflag

The Splitflag - the Danish State Flag. Proportions: 56:107 The Orlogsflag - the Danish Naval Flag. Proportions: 56:107

The Splitflag or Orlogsflag have similar specifications, but legally, they are two different flags. The Splitflag is a Danish flag ending in a swallow-tail, it is Dannebrog red, and is used on land. The Orlogsflag is a Splitflag with a deeper red colour and is only used on sea.

The Orlogsflag with no markings, may only be used by the Royal Danish Navy. There are though a few exceptions to this. A few institutions have been allowed to fly the clean Orlogsflag. Same flag with markings has been approved for a few dozen companies and institutions over the years.

Furthermore, the Orlogsflag is only described as such if it has no additional markings. Any swallow-tail flag, no matter the color, is called a Splitflag provided it bears additional markings.

The first regulation regarding the Splitflag dates from 27 March, 1630, where King Christian IV orders that Norwegian "Defensionskibe" (merchants ships with guns) may only use the Splitflag if they are in war-service under Denmark. In 1685 an order, distributed to a number of cities in Slesvig, says that all ships must carry the Danish flag, and in 1690 all merchants ships is forbidden to use the Splitflag, with the exception of ships sailing in the East Indies, West Indies and at the coast of Africa. In 1741 it is re-stated that the regulation of 1690 is still very much in effect, that merchants ships may not use the Splitflag. At the same time it is now allowed the Danish East India Company to use the Splitflag when past the equator.

It is obvious that some confusion must have existed regarding the Splitflag. In 1696 the Admiralty presented the King with a proposal for a standard regulating both size and shape of the Splitflag. In the same year a Royal resolution defines the proportions of the Splitflag, which in this resolution is called Kongeflaget (the King's flag), as follows: The cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. The two first fields must be square in form with the sides three times the cross width. The two outer fields are rectangular and 1½ the length of the square fields. The tails are the length of the flag.

These numbers are the basic for the Splitflag, or Orlogsflag, today, though the numbers have been slightly altered. The term Orlogsflag dates from 1806 and denotes use in the Royal Danish Navy.

From about 1750 to early 1800's a number of ships / companies which the government has interests in, received approval to used the Splitflag. From the mid 1800's to 1899 another bunch of institutions and private companies also received approval to use the Splitflag. Especially after 1870 the government generous and with little thought hand out approval to all kinds to institutions.

In royal resolution of October 25, 1939 for the Danish Navy, it is stated that the Orlogsflag is a Splitflag with a deep red ("Kraprød" or "dybrød") colour. Like the National flag, no nuance is given, but in modern days this is given as 195U. Furthermore the size and shape is corrected in this resolution to be: The cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. The two first fields must be square in form with the height of 3/7 of the flags height. The two outer fields are rectangular and 5/4 the length of the square fields. The tails are 6/4 the length of the rectangular fields.

Comparing this to the 1696 resolution one can see that both the rectangular fields and the tails have become smaller.

Who may use what?

1. Stutflag: This is the national flag of Denmark and is used by for all civilian purposes including the merchant navy. Any Dane can have a flagpole in the garden and use the flag according to the law. When the flag is not hoisted, for instance during darkness, a long narrow version called a vimpel or a wider version called a stander can be flown.

2. Splitflag: The use of the swallow-tail flag is restricted to the Danish Government and Navy. Note: The Naval Flag has a darker hue than the State Flag. Private yachts and motor boats are allowed to use the Naval Flag with the letters Y.F.(for Yacht Flag) superimposed in the upper canton. This flag is not allowed on boats for hire.

3. Kongeflag (literally: The King's Flag): This is the flag of the Monarch. It is currently used by H.M. Queen Margrethe II.

4. Dronningeflag (literally: The Queen's flag). This is the flag of the consort of the monarch. The main difference from the flag of the monarch is that this version of the royal coat-of-arms lacks the supporters, two wild men. This flag was used by H.M. Queen Ingrid, and is currently not in use, since the Prince Consort, H.R.H. Prince Henrik uses a special flag with a his personal coat of arms in the centre (originally, he used a flag with a crowned "H" in the centre).

5. Rigsforstanderflag: This flag is used by the leading member of the Royal Family when the Queen is abroad, and shows that the person currently assumes the constitutional duties of the Monarch. This person remains the de facto Monarch, until the Monarch returns to Danish territory.

6. Tronfølgerflag: This is the flag of the Crown Prince of Denmark, currently H.R.H. Crown Prince Frederik.

7. Kongehusflag: This flag can be used by any member of the Danish Royal Family.

8. Forsvarsminister: This is the flag of the Minister of Defence.

9. Admiral: Used on a ship to indicate that an Admiral is on board.

10. Viceadmiral: Used on a ship to indicate that a Vice Admiral is on board.

11. Kontreadmiral: Used on a ship to indicate that an Rear Admiral is on board.

12. Postflag: This is the former flag of the Royal Danish Mail and Telegraph (Danish: Kongelig Post og Telegrafvæsen), now Post Danmark.

13. Statens skibe: This flag is used on ships owned by the Danish State.

14. DSB: This flag is used by the DSB, the state railway company (Danske Statsbaner).

15. Havnepoliti: This is used by the Danish harbour police.

Flag days



References

  • Dannebrog - Vort Flag, Lieutenant Colonel Thaulow, Forlaget Codan, Copenhagen 1943
  • Dannebrog, Helga Bruhn, Forlaget Jespersen og Pios, Copenhagen 1949
  • Danebrog - Danmarks Palladium, E. D. Lund, Forlaget H. Hagerups, Copenhagen 1919
  • DS 359:2005 ’Flagdug’, Dansk Standard, 2005

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. Nicholas), and a treble (young Saint Nicholas).
. This is for small orchestra, three choirs, a tenor soloist (St. Havnepoliti: This is used by the Danish harbour police. This tells the story of Saint Nicholas and his Christian exploits. 15. Benjamin Britten wrote a Christmas cantata commissioned by three public schools.

DSB: This flag is used by the DSB, the state railway company (Danske Statsbaner). Nicholas (São Nicolau) has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Guimarães as the patron saint of high-school students, in the so called Nicolinas, a group of festivities that occur from November 29th to December 7th each year. 14. In Portugal, St. Statens skibe: This flag is used on ships owned by the Danish State. He is accompanied by "Père Fouettard", carrying a bunch of sticks with which naughty children are beaten. 13. In France, Saint Nicolas is only celebrated this way in the eastern part of the country (Alsace, Lorraine regions) and less strongly in the northern part of the country (Nord département).

Postflag: This is the former flag of the Royal Danish Mail and Telegraph (Danish: Kongelig Post og Telegrafvæsen), now Post Danmark. Saint Nicholas is also celebrated by the university students in the city of Liège. 12. Note that Saint Nicholas has been celebrated in Belgium for centuries - there is even a city called Sint-Niklaas - but, like every folkloristic thing in Belgium, there might be small differences, and generally in the eastern part of the provinces West Flanders and East Flanders Saint Nicholas is not celebrated, but instead children receive presents from Sint Maarten (Saint Martin) on the 11th of November. Kontreadmiral: Used on a ship to indicate that an Rear Admiral is on board. This tradition was still alive thirty years ago in the Catholic south of The Netherlands. 11. Children have to put their shoes by the stove the evening of the 5th of December and the next morning, they find their presents.

Viceadmiral: Used on a ship to indicate that a Vice Admiral is on board. The celebrating of Saint-Nicholas is mostly the same as in the Netherlands, but in Belgium the children receive their presents on the 6th of December. 10. Originally Sinterklaas or Sint-Nikolaas was only celebrated in Flanders and the Netherlands the way described above, but now he is celebrated in Wallonia in the same way. Admiral: Used on a ship to indicate that an Admiral is on board. The quality of such poetry varies strongly, from crooked rhymes to reasonably well written poems of several pages. 9. Since the poem is signed by Sinterklaas, the poems can be pleasantly sharp and things can be said which one would not usually say directly, even though it is usually clear who wrote the poem.

Forsvarsminister: This is the flag of the Minister of Defence. The poems may also be more like small pieces of art, often ridiculing things the receiver did in the past year. 8. But not to worry, there are always real gifts, the biggest of which are sometimes a remnant of the original tradition, reserved for the next morning, spread out on a big table and buried under walnuts and mandarins ('from Spain'). Kongehusflag: This flag can be used by any member of the Danish Royal Family. The possibilities are endless and preparations may start weeks (or months) in advance. 7. There may be instructions about where the gift is hidden, the parcel may act strangely when handled, there may be several layers of wrapping, with syrup smeared in between and ultimately there may be no gift in the parcel at all.

Crown Prince Frederik. The poem and the wrapping, called surprise, usually become more important than the gift itself. Tronfølgerflag: This is the flag of the Crown Prince of Denmark, currently H.R.H. Also secondary school classes and colleagues at work sometimes celebrate it together. 6. After kids stop believing, families often continue to celebrate the holiday. This person remains the de facto Monarch, until the Monarch returns to Danish territory. Dutch and Flemish media, especially television stations, abide by a kind of informal rule never to deny Sinterklaas's existence, or at least not in programs broadcast before children's bedtime.

Rigsforstanderflag: This flag is used by the leading member of the Royal Family when the Queen is abroad, and shows that the person currently assumes the constitutional duties of the Monarch. Some Christians fear that if their children discover them lying about the existence of Sinterklaas, the children may believe that they are lying about the existence of God himself. 5. Others, looking back on their own experience with Sinterklaas as a child, consider that the enjoyment the children get is greater than a 'small' discomfort. Prince Henrik uses a special flag with a his personal coat of arms in the centre (originally, he used a flag with a crowned "H" in the centre). Therefore some parents tell their children from the start that all this Sinterklaas is just a fantasy, a game that people play, as they consider it an inappropriately bad example about telling the truth. Queen Ingrid, and is currently not in use, since the Prince Consort, H.R.H. For some children, gradually losing their magic view of the world as they grow older and getting more and more suspicious about what their parents are telling them, it still may be their first big traumatic experience in life when their parents admit that Sinterklaas does not really exist....

This flag was used by H.M. Also, most children can't think of a reason why their parents would lie to them. The main difference from the flag of the monarch is that this version of the royal coat-of-arms lacks the supporters, two wild men. The atmosphere during celebrations can be very enchanting though, and many children really want to believe. This is the flag of the consort of the monarch. Most children do suspect that Sinterklaas may not truly exist. Dronningeflag (literally: The Queen's flag). At family gatherings where a stand-in Sinterklaas in a rented suit appears, parents have reported in advance to this Sinterklaas what the children have done good and bad and make it look like he knows everything about the children when the 'Goedheiligman' ('Good Holy Man') looks in his big book.

4. When children ask their parents how it is possible that Sinterklaas is at so many places, they tell them that those are assistant Sinterklazen. Queen Margrethe II. The period between his arrival and December 5 is therefore very exciting. It is currently used by H.M. They think that he actually lives forever and that he comes from Spain, that he knows everything about the children and that his Zwarte Pieten do come down through chimneys. Kongeflag (literally: The King's Flag): This is the flag of the Monarch. The children, up to an age of usually seven or eight years, almost religiously believe in Sinterklaas.

3. But the presents may be too big or too many, so they have to be sneaked into the house while the kids are distracted. This flag is not allowed on boats for hire. However, the European Parliament has issued a recommendation to ban chocolate cigarettes since they might promote future real smoking. Private yachts and motor boats are allowed to use the Naval Flag with the letters Y.F.(for Yacht Flag) superimposed in the upper canton. Also popular are coins and cigarettes made out of chocolate. Note: The Naval Flag has a darker hue than the State Flag. These presents are often accompanied by a simple poem, saying something about the child or with a hint to the nature of the present.

Splitflag: The use of the swallow-tail flag is restricted to the Danish Government and Navy. Typical presents include the first letter of the child's name made out of chocolate, a figurine of Sinterklaas made out of chocolate and wrapped in painted aluminium foil, coloured marzipan shaped into fruit, an animal or some other object. 2. Some parents manage to 'convince' Sinterklaas to come to their home personally. When the flag is not hoisted, for instance during darkness, a long narrow version called a vimpel or a wider version called a stander can be flown. Alternatively - some improvisation is often called for - the parents 'hear a sound coming from the attic' and then the bag with presents is 'found' there. Any Dane can have a flagpole in the garden and use the flag according to the law. Later in The Netherlands adults started to give each other presents on the evening of the 5th; then older children were included and today in that country even the youngest take part in 'Sinterklaasavond' or 'Pakjesavond': children at home sing Sinterklaas songs and suddenly somebody will knock on the door very loudly, and when they go to the door a gunny sack full of presents is found on the doorstep.

Stutflag: This is the national flag of Denmark and is used by for all civilian purposes including the merchant navy. Traditionally Saint Nicholas brings his gifts in the night and Belgian children still find their presents on the morning of December 6th. 1. This practice however has been condemned by Sinterklaas, in his more recent television appearances, as something of the past. Comparing this to the 1696 resolution one can see that both the rectangular fields and the tails have become smaller. Children are also told that in the worst case they would be put in the gunny sack that black Peter carries the presents in, and be taken back to Madrid in Spain, where Sinterklaas spends the rest of the year. The tails are 6/4 the length of the rectangular fields. Given that the fictitious Sinterklaas comes from Spain, the Moorish dress of his helpers is noteworthy since Moors ruled over most of Spain for centuries.

The two outer fields are rectangular and 5/4 the length of the square fields. Some have actually gone so far as to replace black Peter by "green Peter" (a man in a Moorish dress with a green face). The two first fields must be square in form with the height of 3/7 of the flags height. The usual reply is that his face is black with soot. Furthermore the size and shape is corrected in this resolution to be: The cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. In recent years some people have engaged in a recurring debate about racial aspects of the black Peter character: the Peter character may have been inspired by black slaves. Like the National flag, no nuance is given, but in modern days this is given as 195U. Children are told that Black Peter enters the house through the chimney, which also explained his black face and hands, and would leave a bundle of sticks or a small bag with salt in the shoe instead of candy when the child had been bad.

In royal resolution of October 25, 1939 for the Danish Navy, it is stated that the Orlogsflag is a Splitflag with a deep red ("Kraprød" or "dybrød") colour. However, with the advent of central heating children put their shoes near the boiler or even just next to the front door. Especially after 1870 the government generous and with little thought hand out approval to all kinds to institutions. Traditionally, in the weeks between his arrival and the 5th of December, before going to bed, children put their shoes next to the chimney of the coal fired stove or fireplace, with a carrot or some hay in it "for Sinterklaas's horse", sing a Sinterklaas song, and will find some candy in the form of a chocolate, marzipan frog in their shoes the next day, supposedly thrown down the chimney by a Zwarte Piet or Sinterklaas himself. From the mid 1800's to 1899 another bunch of institutions and private companies also received approval to use the Splitflag. All Dutch national television companies have agreed to use the same actor to portray Sinterklaas; currently, the role is played by Bram van der Vlugt. From about 1750 to early 1800's a number of ships / companies which the government has interests in, received approval to used the Splitflag. Also, on the main day of celebration (traditionally December 5th) the Dutch version of Sesame Street the inhabitants of Sesame Street are visited by Sinterklaas as well.

The term Orlogsflag dates from 1806 and denotes use in the Royal Danish Navy. Over the years media attention has grown, while Sinterklaas is in the country the 'Sinterklaasjournaal' is aired every day, discussing his activities and any major 'problems' (which occur every year). These numbers are the basic for the Splitflag, or Orlogsflag, today, though the numbers have been slightly altered. His official arrival in a different town each year is televised on public television. The tails are the length of the flag. Sinterklaas also visits schools, hospitals and shopping malls. The two outer fields are rectangular and 1½ the length of the square fields. The children welcome him by singing traditional Sinterklaas songs.

The two first fields must be square in form with the sides three times the cross width. His Zwarte Pieten throw candy and small, round gingerbread-like cookies (Pepernoten) into the crowd. In the same year a Royal resolution defines the proportions of the Splitflag, which in this resolution is called Kongeflaget (the King's flag), as follows: The cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. Each year in November Sinterklaas arrives by steamer 'from Spain', and is then paraded through the streets of the town he arrives in (actually in every town of the Netherlands), welcomed by cheering and singing children. In 1696 the Admiralty presented the King with a proposal for a standard regulating both size and shape of the Splitflag. Sinterklaas has a long white beard, holds a long gold coloured staff with a fancy curled top in his hand (a crozier) and carries a big book with all the children's names in it, and whether they have been good or bad. It is obvious that some confusion must have existed regarding the Splitflag. The frame shift to multiple Petes was more or less a direct result of the assistance provided by the Canadian army to the reception of the saint in 1945 Amsterdam.

At the same time it is now allowed the Danish East India Company to use the Splitflag when past the equator. "Piet(er)" the name in use now can be traced back to a book from 1891. In 1741 it is re-stated that the regulation of 1690 is still very much in effect, that merchants ships may not use the Splitflag. Traditionally Saint Nicholas only had one helper, whose name varied wildly. In 1685 an order, distributed to a number of cities in Slesvig, says that all ships must carry the Danish flag, and in 1690 all merchants ships is forbidden to use the Splitflag, with the exception of ships sailing in the East Indies, West Indies and at the coast of Africa. Today however, the more politically correct explanation that Pete's face is "black from soot" (as Pete has to climb through chimneys to deliver his gifts) is used. The first regulation regarding the Splitflag dates from 27 March, 1630, where King Christian IV orders that Norwegian "Defensionskibe" (merchants ships with guns) may only use the Splitflag if they are in war-service under Denmark. Their blackness was racial, with Pete being an imported African servant of Saint Nicholas since 1850 (though some people say Pete was a slave who, when Sinterklaas bought him his freedom, was so grateful that he stayed to assist him).

Any swallow-tail flag, no matter the color, is called a Splitflag provided it bears additional markings. This racialization is reflected in the reworking of the character’s mythos. Furthermore, the Orlogsflag is only described as such if it has no additional markings. Although the character of Black Peter later came to acquire racial connotations, his origins were in the devil figure. Same flag with markings has been approved for a few dozen companies and institutions over the years. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas eve the devil was shackled and made his slave. A few institutions have been allowed to fly the clean Orlogsflag. During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for the devil.

There are though a few exceptions to this. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (black Petes). The Orlogsflag with no markings, may only be used by the Royal Danish Navy. Sinterklaas wears a red bishop's dress including a red mitre, rides a white horse (called Amerigo) over the rooftops and is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses, dating back two centuries. The Orlogsflag is a Splitflag with a deeper red colour and is only used on sea. On the evening of December 5, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child that has been good in the past year (in practice to all children). The Splitflag is a Danish flag ending in a swallow-tail, it is Dannebrog red, and is used on land. In recent years, Christmas (along with Santa Claus) has been pushed by shopkeepers as another gift-giving festival, with some success, although, especially for young children, Saint Nicholas' eve is still much more important than Christmas.

The Splitflag or Orlogsflag have similar specifications, but legally, they are two different flags. In this case, roles are reversed, though, in that Sinterklaas is the one who gives the presents. That some confusion still exists in this matter can be seen from the regulation of May 4, 1927, which once again states that Danish merchant ships have to fly flags according to the regulation of 1748. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' eve is the occasion for gift-giving, when his alleged birthday is celebrated. This regulation is still in effect today and thus the legal proportions of the National flag is today anywhere between 3:1:3 width / 3:1:4.5 length and 3:1:3 width / 3:1:5.25 length. In Luxembourg "Kleeschen" is accompanied by the "Houseker" a frightening helper wearing a brown monk's habit. So in May 1893 a new regulation to all chiefs of police, stated that the police should not intervene, if the two last fields in the flag were longer than 6/4 as long as these did not exceed 7/4, and provided that this was the only rule violated. In Slovenia Saint Nikolaus (Miklavž) is accompanied by an angel and a devil (parkelj) corresponding Austrian Krampuss.

They also noted that the flag currently used had lengths, of the last two fields, anywhere between 7/4 to 13/6. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Mikuláš is often also accompanied by an angel who acts as a counterweight to the ominous Knecht Ruprecht (čert). Any new flag would also quickly become unlawful, due to wear and tear. These Krampusläufe (Krampus runs) still exist, although perhaps less violent than in the past. Some interested in the matter made inquires into the issue and concluded that the 6/4 length would make the flag look blunt. They wore masks and dragged chains behind them, even occasionally hurling them towards children in their way. As late as 1892 it was stated in a series of regulations that the correct lengths of the two last fields in the flag were 6/4. In parts of Austria, Krampusse, who local tradition says are Nikolaus's helpers (in reality, typically children of poor families), roamed the streets during the festival.

During the next about 150 years nobody paid much attention to actually abide fully to the proportions of the flag given in the 1748 regulation, not even the government. In highly Catholic regions, the local priest was informed by the parents about their children's behaviour and would then personally visit the homes in the traditional Christian garment and threaten to beat them with a rod. No official nuance definition of "Dannebrog rød" exists. These traditions were implemented more rigidly in Catholic countries such as Austria. The private company, Dansk Standard, regulation number 359 of 2005, defines the red colour of the flag as Pantone 186c. In other accounts he would throw the sack into the river, drowning the naughty children within. The only available red fabric colour in 1748 was made of bracken root, which make a brownish red. In Switzerland, where he is called Schmutzli, he would threaten to put bad children in a sack and take them back to the Black Forest.

According to the regulation of June 11, 1748 the colour was simply red, which is common known today as "Dannebrog rød" ("Dannebrog red"). Knecht Rupert furthermore was equipped with goatlegs. To the best of knowledge, this regulation has never been revoked, however it is probably no longer done. But for many children, Nikolaus also elicited fear, as he was often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, who would threaten to beat, or sometimes actually eat the children for misbehaviour. the Knights Hospitaller). This has become more lenient in recent decades. John (a.k.a. Sometimes a disguised Nikolaus also visits the children at school or in their homes and asks them if they "have been good" (sometimes ostensibly checking a book for their record), handing out presents on a per-behaviour basis.

These had to carry the King's cypher logo in the center of the flag, to distinguish them from Maltese ships, due to the similarity of the flag of the Order of St. If they were not, they will have charcoal in their boots instead. A somewhat curious regulation came in 1758 concerning Danish ships sailing in the Mediterranean. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good. Both flags are identical. St. This definition are the absolute proportions for the Danish national flag to this day, for both the civil version of the flag, "Stutflaget", as well as the merchant flag ("Handelsflaget"). Many children put a boot, called Nikolaus-Stiefel, outside the front door on the night of December 5 to December 6.

The proportions are thus: 3:1:3 vertically and 3:1:4.5 horizontally. In Germany, Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. The two first fields must be square in form and the two outer fields most be 6/4 lengths of those. Many Catholics, on the other hand, have adopted Luther's Christkind. The white cross must be 1/7 of the flags height. The Protestant Netherlands, however, retain a much larger Saint Nicholas tradition. The size and shape of the coufhordie flag ("Koffardiflaget") for merchant ships is given in the regulation of June 11, 1748, which says: A red flag with a white cross with no split end. The Nicholas celebrations still remain a part of tradition among many Protestants, albeit on a much smaller scale than Christmas.

The quest to unite them into a specified flag law have been brought forth many times, especially in the 20th century, but it never amounted to anything. Since Nicholas was a canonised saint, Martin Luther replaced the festival that had become associated with the Papacy with a "Christkind" (Christ child) celebration on Christmas Eve. Denmark does not have a specified flag law, but various regulations and rules spread out over many documents, from King Christian IV's time till today, can be found. The history of the festive Saint Nicholas celebration is complex and reflects conflicts between Protestantism and Catholicism. The royal seal of King Erik VII from 1398 - the first combined coat of arms found in Denmark - shows the flag twice; the cross that separates the four coats-of-arms is the cross of the Dannebrog and the coat of arms representing Denmark show the three lions holding a Dannebrog banner. Also his assistants, the Zwarte Pieten ('Black Peters') may be a remnant of the raven that accompanied Wodan. From Queen Margaret I and King Erik VII time we also have a case that undisputedly links Dannebrog to Denmark. In the Saint Nicholas tradition in the Netherlands he rides a horse over the rooftops, and this may be derived from Odin's riding through the sky.

This image from "Wapenboek Gelre" is near identical found in an old coats of arms book from the 15th century now located in the National Archives of Sweden, ("Riksarkivet"). The appearance is similar to some portrayals of this god. This image has been used to acknowledge a previously disputed theory that the cross found in Valdemar Atterdag's coats of arms located in his Danælog seal ("Rettertingsseglet") from 1356 is indeed the cross from the Danish flag. Some elements of this part of the Saint Nicholas tradition could be traced back to the Germanic god Wodan (Odin). This is the earliest known undisputed colour rendering of the Dannebrog. The American Santa Claus, Anglo-Canadian, and British Father Christmas derives from this festivity, the name 'Santa Claus' being a degeneration of the Dutch word Sinterklaas. The text left of the coat of arms says “die coninc van denmarke” (The King of Denmark). Saint Nicholas Day is a festival for children in much of Europe related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts.

On the right horn is a Danish banner. As in the low countries oranges are generally believed to come from Spain, this led to the belief that the Saint lives in Spain and comes to visit every winter bringing oranges and other 'wintery' fruits. On page 55 verso we find the Danish coat-of-arms with a helmet on top with horns. In a strange twist, the three golden balls referring to the dowry affair are sometimes misinterpreted as being oranges or other fruits. It is now located on the Royal Library of Brussels (the "Bibliothèque royale Albert Ier"). Depending on whether he is depicted as patron saint of children or sailors, his images will be completed by a background showing ships, children or three figures climbing out of a wooden barrel (the three slaughtered children he resurrected). The book displays some 1700 coats-of-arms from all over Europe, in colour. Due to the episode with the three dowries, he is shown holding in his hand either three purses, three coins or three golden balls.

Most historians claim that the book was written by Geldre Claes Heinen. In Catholic iconography, Saint Nicholas is depicted as a bishop, wearing all the insignia of this profession: a red bishop's cloak, a red miter and a bishop's staff (crozier). The earliest source that indisputably links the red flag with a white cross to a Danish King, and to the realm itself, is found in a Dutch register of coats-of-arms “Wapenboek Gelre”, written between 1340 and 1370 (some sources say 1378 or 1386). Nicholas is a popular subject portrayed on countless Eastern Orthodox icons, particularly Russian ones. The national Coat of Arms of Estonia, three blue lions on a golden shield, is almost identical to the Coat of Arms of Denmark, and its origin can be traced directly back to King Valdemar II and Danish rule in Estonia 1219-1346. The holy person of St. Efforts to trace it from Estonia back to Denmark have, however, been in vain. Due to the modern association with Christmas, Saint Nicholas is a patron saint of Christmas, as well as pawnbrokers (see above).He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Eastern Roman Emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.

The symbol later became the coat-of-arms of the city. This, and also his miracle of him resurrecting the three butchered children, made Saint Nicholas a patron saint of children and later students as well. In Tallinn, a coat-of-arms resembling the flag is found on several buildings and can be traced back to the middle of the 15th century where it appears in the coat-of-arms of the "Die Grosse Gilde", a sort of merchant consortium which greatly influenced the city's development. or Santa Claus.. An obvious place to look for documentation is in the Estonian city of Tallinn, the site of the legendary battle. While the real gifts would only be presented at Christmas, the little presents for the children were given right away, courtesy of Saint Nicholas .. However, if one examines the few existing foreign sources about Denmark from the 13th to 15th centuries, it is apparent that, at least from foreign point of view; the national symbol of Denmark was not a red-and-white banner but the royal coat of arms (three blue lions of a golden shield.) This coat of arms remains in use to this day. On the way back they would stop at one of the various Nicholas fairs to buy some hard-to-come-by goods, gifts for their loved ones and invariably some little presents for their children.

In the 19th and early 20th century, these images were used by many Danish historians, with a good flair of nationalism, trying to date the origins of the flag to 1219. According to another source, On December 6th every sailor or ex-sailor of the low countries (which at that time was virtually all of the male population) would descend to the harbour towns to participate in a church celebration for their patron saint. However, several coins, seals and images exist, both foreign and domestic, from the 13th to 15th centuries and even earlier, showing flags similar to the Dannebrog. According to one source, medieval nuns used the night of December 6th to anonymously deposit baskets of food and clothes at the doorsteps of the needy. Whether the flag has its origins in a divine sign, a banner of a military order, an ecclesiastical banner, or perhaps something entirely different, Danish literature is no help before the early 15th century. Today, saint Nicholas is still celebrated as a great gift-giver in several Western European countries. Danish literature of the 13th and 14th centuries remains suspiciously quiet about the national flag. In fact many of the aspects of the Saint Nicholas' celebration can be linked to similar features of the ancient Thor worshipping.).

Since King Valdamar II was married to the Portuguese princess, Berengaria, it is not unthinkable that the origin of the story, if not the flag, was the Spanish tale or a similar tale, which again might have been inspired by an even older legend. (Scholars may discover some analogies to the Norse god Thor, who was also a common man's god compared to the more complex Odin. Basically, these are all variations of the same legend. Therefore this time made Saint Nicholas a 'popular' saint in every sense of the word, more than all his miracles combined. In Estonia it is the Danish colours, and in Jerusalem the English colours. At a time of holy wars and crusades the idea that one could go to heaven, even become a saint, just by the way one lived instead of the way one died must have offered a great deal of consolation for the medieval common folk. In Spain, the colours of the Pope appears in the sky, in Finland the Swedish colours. As described above, while most contemporary saints earned their place in heaven by dying for their faith in manners most unusual and cruel, both Nicholas and Martin lived peacefully to a ripe old age.

The similarities to the legends is obvious. Many churches were named for them and later gave their names to the villages that emerged around them. The English flag, the Saint George's Cross is also claimed to have appeared in the sky during a critical battle, in this case in Jerusalem during the crusades. In the middle ages, both Saint Nicholas and Martin of Tours were celebrated as true people's saints. Probably a later invention to counter the legendary origins of the Danish flags, but never the less of the same nature. He is also the patron saint of all of Greece. Likewise an almost identical Swedish tale from the 18th century about a yellow cross on blue appearing in 1157 during a Swedish battle in Finland. In modern Greece, he is still easily among the most recognisable saints and December 6 finds many cities celebrating their patron saint.

Bruhn mentions a battle (also mentioned by Fabricius) taking place on September 10, 1217 between Christian knights and Moor warriors on the Iberian Peninsula near the castle Alcazar, where it is said that a golden cross on white appeared in the sky, to bring victory to the Christians. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as "The Lord of the Sea", often described by modern Greek scholars as a kind of Christianised version of Poseidon. Similar tales of appearances in the sky at critical moments, particularly of crosses, can be found all over Europe. As such he has become over time the patron saint of several cities maintaining harbours. She claims that it is neither the battle nor the banner that is central to the tale, but rather the cross in the sky. Among the Greeks and Italians he is a favourite of sailors, fishermen, ships and sailing. A much different theory is briefly discussed by Fabricius and elaborated more by Helga Bruhn in a book from 1949. At a time where most saints earned their place in heaven by dying for their faith in manners most unusual and cruel, this definitely made him stand out (together with Saint Martin, who also died of natural old age) and definitely aided to his 'popularity' in every way of the word.

All these theories centre on two battles in Estonia, whether it is in Fellin (1208) or Lyndanisse (1219), and thus try to explain the origin in relation to the tale brought forth over 300 years after the event. One of the most amazing feats of Saint Nicholas however was that he lived to a ripe old age and died peacefully in his own bed. He repeats the story about the flag being planted in front of Bishop Theodorik's tent which the enemy mistakenly attacks believing it to be the tent of the King. Still, neither the church nor any scientists have ever tried to analyse the fluid, so truth still lies in the eye of the believer. The banner would then already be known in Estonia. It is however worth noting that the tomb lies at sea level in a harbor town so the occurrence of watery liquid can be explained by several theories. That is based on his tireless efforts to expand Christianity to the Baltic countries and that under his initiative and supervision several smaller crusades had already been conducted in Estonia. So even up to today, a flask of manna is extracted from the tomb of Saint Nicholas every year on December 6th (the Saint's birthday).

He says in this theory that it might have been Archbishop Andreas Sunesøn's personal ecclestical banner or perhaps even the flag of Archbishop Absalon. As the bones were stolen and brought to Bari, they continued to do so, much to the joy of the new owners. In this study he put the location to 1208 Fellin and not the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219, based on the earliest source available about the story.. It is said that in Myra the bones of Saint Nicholas each year sweated out a clear watery liquid, called Manna, which of course was said to possess immense powers. It is explained in his study of 1934, titled "Sagnet om Dannebrog og de ældste Forbindelser med Estland'". Basil's feast day on January 1 is also considered a time of exchanging gifts. Fabricius put up yet another theory. It should be noted perhaps that a nearly identical story is attributed by Greek folklore to Basil of Caesarea.

P. Nicholas. The Danish church-historian L. After he died, people in the region continued to give to the poor anonymously, and such gifts were still often attributed to St. The white on red warrior-cloak cannot be traced until later. People then began to suspect that he was behind a large number of other anonymous gifts to the poor, using the inheritance from his wealthy parents. The Knights Hospitaller is a monk-order and used black dresses. For his help to the poor, Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers; the three gold balls traditionally hung outside a pawnshop symbolize the three sacks of gold.

Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen does not give an explanation how the white Maltese cross on red of the Knights Hospitaller, found its way to the Danish flag of 1219, given the fact that in that time it was a white cross on black. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead. He claims that the origin of the legend of the falling flag comes from this confusion in the battle. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank God alone. Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen explains that it was Bishop Theodorik who carried the flag, well planted outside his tent, thus as an already well-known Knights Hospitaller symbol in Livonia, the enemy thought this was the King's symbol and mistakenly stormed Bishop Theodorik tent. Invariably the third time the father lies in waiting, trying to discover their benefactor. In the contemporary writing of the priest Henry of Livonia from Riga it is said that Bishop Theodorik was killed during the 1219 battle, as the enemy stormed his tent, thinking it was the King's tent. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes "of age".

Furthermore he claims that Bishop Theodorik, already a part initiator of the order in Livonia, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, had the idea of starting a similar order in Estonia and that he was the original instigator of Bishop Albert of Buxhoeveden inquiry to King Valdemar II in 1218, that set the whole Danish participation in the Baltic crusades in motion. One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. He supports his theory with that the order came to Denmark in the latter half of the 12th century and during the next centuries spread to major cities, like Odense, Viborg, Horsens, Ribe and their headquarters in Slagelse, so by the time of the Baltic crusade, the symbol was already a known symbol in Denmark. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest (or too shy) to help the man in public, he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses filled with gold coins through the window opening onto the man's floor. A theory brought forth by the Danish historian Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen in 1875 in his book Danebroges Oprindelse, is that the Danish flag is the banner of the Knights Hospitaller. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Moreover, it is unlikely that the pope would send such a banner, given the fact that they already had one, namely the banner of the Knights Hospitaller (Danish: "Johanitterne"). In his most famous exploit however, a poor man had three daughters but could not affort a proper dowry for them.

It is unlikely that the very fair and loyal archbishop would do such a thing behind the king's back. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also managed to resurrect the three boys from the barrel. He suggested that it was not a pope banner to the King but a pope banner to the Churchly legate in the North, more specifically to archbishop Andreas Sunesøn, which he - without the knowledge of the King – brought with him on the King's crusade in the Baltic countries, in an effort to make the army take on a Christian symbol (over the king's symbol) and thereby strengthen the power of the church. Another legend tells how a terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, only to kill and slaughter them and put their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. A similar theory was suggested by Danish explorer, adventurer and Captain Johan Støckel in the early 20th century. While the saint was praying, the loose-lipped sailor went around telling how courageously he was saved by the man Nikei-laos, upon which the church elders had no choice but to appoint Nicholas as their new bishop. On the other hand, the letter in question might simply have been lost. At that time the old bishop had just died and the church fathers were instructed in a dream to choose for their next bishop a "man of victory" (Greek: Nikei).

Being granted a banner by the Pope would have been a great honour, but despite the many letters of the popes relating to the crusades, none of them mentions granting a banner to a King of Denmark. In a colourful version of this legend, Nicholas saved the man on his voyage back from Alexandria to Myra and upon his arrival took the sailor to the church. One would though imagine that if this story was true, some kind of record ought to exist of the event and presumably Danish historians would not have failed to mention it in some way. According to one legend, as a young man Nicholas went to study in Alexandria and on one of his (sea) voyages from Myra to Alexandria he is said to have saved the life of a sailor who fell from the ship's rigging in a storm. Other kings and lords certainly received such banners. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and is often called upon by sailors who are in danger of drowning or being shipwrecked. The Danish historian Caspar Paludan-Müller in 1873 in his book "Sagnet om den himmelfaldne Danebrogsfane" put forth the theory that it is a banner sent by the Pope to the Danish King to use in his crusades in the Baltic countries. This last may seem strange for a man of "saintly behavior", but would fit perfectly with Nicholas' sometimes violent nature as reported at the First Ecumenical Council.

Other origin theories have been put forth in the late 19th and early 20th century. The review of the data revealed that the historical Saint Nicholas was barely five foot in height (while not exactly small, still shorter than average, even for his time) and had a broken nose. Many of these legends are apparently built on earlier ones. In the summer of 2005, the report of this measurements was sent to a forensic laboratory in England. If the flag of 1208 or 1219 ever existed. Although jealously guarded and kept from prying eyes of scientists, especially with the still continuing miracle of the manna, the Roman Catholic Church allowed for one scientific survey of the bones: In the late 1950s, during a restoration of the chapel, it allowed a team of their own scientists to photograph and measure the contents of the crypt grave. Historically, it is of course impossible to prove or disprove that these records speak of the same flag. Whereas the importance of relics and the business associated with pilgrims and patron saints caused the remains of most saints to be spread over several churches in several countries, Saint Nicholas is unique in that most of his bones have been preserved in one spot: his grave crypt in Bari.

A historian from Slesvig, Ulrik Petersen (1656-1735), wrote in the late 17th century that the flag hung in Slesvig cathedral till about 1660 until it simply crumbled away, thus ending its more than 400-year-old story. Some observers have reported seeing myrrh exude from these relics. Henrik Rantzau states in his writing of 1576 that the flag was brought to Slesvig city and placed in the cathedral, following its return. The remains arrived on May 9, 1087. A priest and historian from Dithmarschen, Johan Neocorus, wrote in 1598 that the banner captured in 1500, was brought to the church in Wohrden and hung there for the next 59 years, until it was returned to the Danes as part of the peace settlement in 1559. Returning to Bari they brought the remains with them. This is however not the end of the story. Taking advantage of the confusion sailors from Bari, Italy seized the remains of the saint over the objections of the Orthodox monks then caring for them.

This "Danmarckis Hoffuitbanner" was probably nothing short of the "Banner of the Realm'" (Rigsbanner), the Dannebrog.. But early in his reign Myra was overtaken by the Islamic invaders. This young man was Peder Skram. It would regain its control over Asia Minor during the reign of Alexius I Comnenus, (reigned 1081 - 1118). It was saved only by the combined efforts of the banner-carrier Mogens Gyldenstierne, taking multiple wounds, and a young man coming to his rescue. As a result the Empire temporarily lost control over most of Asia Minor to the invading Seljuk Turks. He writes that the "Danish head banner" ("Danmarckis Hoffuitbanner") was nearly captured by the Swedes. The battle ended in humiliating defeat and capture for Romanus.

An indication that we are dealing with multiple flags, are the 1570 writings of Niels Hemmingsøn regarding a bloody battle between Danes and Swedes near the Swedish town of Uppsala in 1520. On August 26, 1071 Romanus IV, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (reigned 1068 - 1071) faced Sultan Alp Arslan of the Seljuk Turks (reigned 1059 - 1072) in the Battle of Manzikert. In fact, the entire letter gives the impression that the lost battle was noting more than an "unfortunate affair". According to this reasoning not even Constantius would risk a possible revolt by removing a popular bishop. In a letter dated 22 February 1500 to Oluf Stigsøn, King John describes the battle, but does not mention the loss of an important flag. This lack of disturbance by the Arian Emperor has been seen as indicating the strong support Nicholas had gained among the people of his territory. However, it is more questionable if he indeed was carrying the "original" flag. There is no indication that Nicholas was affected by these policies and he remained in his position till his death.

It is quite plausible that the king’s personal banner as well as the leading banner of the army were both lost, as the battle was led by the King himself. During his reign he strongly favoured Arianism by seeking to place Arian bishops in most positions. Sources from Dithmarschen, written shortly after the battle of 1500, do mention banners, including the Royal banner, being captured from the Danes, but there is no mention of Dannebrog or the "original" flag. Constantius originally received the Eastern part of the Empire but the death of his brothers left the entire Empire under his control. He notes that the flag was in a poor condition when returned. Constantine was succeeded by his three surviving sons: Constantine II of the Roman Empire (reigned 337 - 340), Constantius II (reigned 337 - 361) and Constans (reigned 337 - 350). In 1576, the son of Johan Rantzau, Henrik Rantzau, also writes about the war and the fate of the flag. In fact Constantine was baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian bishop who had also attended the council, shortly before his death on May 22, 337.

Both claims that this was the original flag, and consequently both writers knew the legend of the falling flag. In fact the tides soon turned and in his later years Arianism managed to win favour with Constantine. This legend is found in two sources, Hans Svanning's History of King John from 1558-1559 and Johan Rantzau's History about the Last Dithmarschen War, from 1569. But the decisions of the council failed to stop the spread of Arianism. In the capitulation terms it is stated that all Danish banners lost in 1500 were to be returned. He is applauded by later Christian writers for keeping Myra free of Arianism. In 1559, King Frederik II recaptured it during his own Dithmarschen campaign. Following this apparent victory to his faction Nicholas returned to Myra.

The flag was lost in a devastating defeat on 17 February 1500. To what point this decision was followed remains uncertain. According to tradition, the original flag from the Battle of Lyndanisse was used in the small campaign of 1500 when King Hans tried to conquer Dithmarschen (in western Holstein in north Germany). The books of Arius and his followers were condemned to be burned but the execution of this decision was left at the hands of each bishop for their respective territories. The story of the original flag has a continuation that many Danes are not aware of. The council lasted from May 20 to June 19, 325 and resulted in the declaration of the Nicene Creed and the formal condemnation of Arianism. Some historians believe that the story by Petrus Olai refers to a source from the first half of the 15th century, making this the oldest reference to the falling flag. They released Nicholas and allowed him back into the process the next day.

Whether or not these records describe a truly old oral story in existents at that time, or a 16th century invented story, is not currently determined. However, according to this account, that night the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to many of the bishops of the Council, telling them to forgive Nicholas, for he had done it out of love for her Son. In another record by Petrus Olai called "Danmarks Tolv Herligheder" (Twelve Splendours of Denmark), in splendour number nine, the same story is re-told almost to the word, however a paragraph has been inserted correcting the year to 1219. Nicholas was kicked out of the Council for this offence, and jailed as well. The Danes were all but defeated when a lamb-skin banner depicting a white cross falls from the sky and miraculously leads to a Danish victory. A later writer claimed that after Arius had presented his case against Jesus' divinity to the Council, Nicholas hit Arius in the face out of indignation. This record describes a battle in 1208 near a place called "Felin" during the Estonia campaign of King Valdemar II. In any case Nicholas is usually counted among them and was noted as an opponent of Arianism.

The second source is the writing of the Franciscan monk Petrus Olai (Peder Olsen) of Roskilde, from 1527. The number of attendees at the Council is uncertain with Eusebius of Caesarea reporting as few as 250 and Athanasius of Alexandria as many as 318. He also mentions that this flag, falling from the sky during the Russian campaign of King Valdemar II, is the very same flag that King Eric of Pomerania took with him when he left the country in 1440 after being deposed as King. Deciding to address the problem as a matter of the state, Constantine called the First Council of Nicaea which also was the first Ecumenical council in 325. It is not mentioned in connection to the campaign of King Valdemar II in Estonia, but in connection with a campaign in Russia. Emerging fanaticism in both opposing factions only resulted in spreading tumult across the Empire. The first is found in Christiern Pedersen's "Danske Krønike", which is a sequel to Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, written 1520-1523. They would form the basis of Arianism.

This story originates from two written sources from the early 16th century. At this time the teachings of Arius in Alexandria, Egypt were gaining popular support but also attracting great opposition. Though no historical support exists for the flag story in the Fellin battle either, it is not difficult to understand how a small and unknown place is replaced with the much grander battle of Reval from the Estonia campaign of King Valdemar II. One of the apparent main reasons of this conflict was the failure to agree to a commonly accepted concept about God in general and Jesus in particular. The first record of the legend dates from more than 300 years after the campaign, and the first record connects the legend to a much smaller battle, though still in Estonia; the battle of Fellin (Viljandi) in 1208. But the relative peace of his reign brought to the forefront the internal conflict within contemporary Christianity. No historical record supports this legend. Under his patronage the Christian church experienced an age of prosperity.

The legend says that during the Battle of Lyndanisse, also known as the Battle of Valdemar (Danish: "Volmerslaget"), near Reval (Tallinn) in Estonia, on 15 June 1219, the flag fell from the sky during a critical stage, resulting in Danish victory. Instead of tolerance, his policies towards Christians consisted of active support. The legend of the flag is very popular among Danes, but most consider it to be a legend though a beautiful one. The end of the war found the Roman Empire unified under the rule of Constantine. . In 324 Licinius was defeated in a war against his Western co-ruler Constantine I of the Roman Empire (reigned 306 - 337). The royal Danish yacht is named after the flag. a church building) in Nicholas's honour in Constantinople, the Roman capital of the.

During the Danish-Norwegian personal union, the Dannebrog was also the flag of Norway and continued to be, with slight modifications, until Norway adopted its current flag in 1821. Justinian I, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (reigned 527 - 565) is reported to have built a temple (i.e. The cross design of the Danish flag was subsequently adopted by the other Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. The popular veneration of Nicholas as a saint seems to have started relatively early. The national flag of Denmark, the Dannebrog, is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side. Nicholas is also known for coming to the defence of the falsely accused, often preventing them from being executed, and for his prayers on behalf of sailors and other travelers. DS 359:2005 ’Flagdug’, Dansk Standard, 2005. Because the celebration of Diana's birth is on December 6, some authors have speculated that this date was deliberately chosen for Nicholas' feast day to overshadow or replace the pagan celebrations.

Hagerups, Copenhagen 1919. The destruction of several pagan temples is also attributed to him, among them one temple of Artemis (also known as Diana). Lund, Forlaget H. As with other bishops of the time, Nicholas' popularity would serve to ensure his position and influence during and after this period. D. Judging from tradition, he was probably well loved and respected in his area, mostly as a result of his charitable activities. Danebrog - Danmarks Palladium, E. It is apparently in this period that Nicholas rose to become bishop of Myra.

Dannebrog, Helga Bruhn, Forlaget Jespersen og Pios, Copenhagen 1949. In many cases they acted as the heads of their respective cities. Dannebrog - Vort Flag, Lieutenant Colonel Thaulow, Forlaget Codan, Copenhagen 1943. As a result their community was allowed to further develop, and the various bishops who acted as their leaders managed to concentrate religious, social and political influence as well as wealth in their hands. Following Galerius' death his surviving co-ruler Licinius (reigned 307 - 324) mostly tolerated Christians. Nicholas survived this period although his activities at the time are uncertain.

The persecution of 303 - 311 is considered to be the longest in the history of the Empire. In the Eastern part Galerius (reigned 305 - 311) continued the persecution until 311 when he issued a general edict of toleration from his deathbed. In the Western part of the Empire Constantius Chlorus (reigned 305 - 306) put an end to the systematic persecution upon his accession to the throne. Following the abdication of the two Emperors on May 1, 305 the policies of their successors towards Christians were different.

Diocletian issued an edict in 303 authorising the systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire. Nicholas' early activities as a priest are said to have occurred during the reign of co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian (reigned 284 - 305) and Maximian (reigned 286 - 305) from which comes the estimation of his age. More likely this was a gradual process. This does not say, however, that his appointment to priest or bishop meant a complete rupture with his former life.

So was Saint Nicholas a working, albeit wealthy, man who complemented his day job with caring for his congregation, or was he a full-time bishop? The impressive list of deeds of Nicholas seems to point to the latter. When his parents died, Nicholas still received his inheritance but is said to have given it away to charity. More likely, however, is that one of his family businesses involved managing a fishing fleet. As the patron saint of sailors, Nicholas is claimed to have been a sailor or fisherman himself.

Nicholas received his ordination as a priest at an early age. The latter is said to have seen potential in the youth and took Nicholas under his patronage. Whatever the reason, as a young adult and scholar, Nicholas moved to Myra to continue his studies and there the above-mentioned uncle introduced him to the local bishop. Other sources place the death of his parents at the time he was already a young adult, leading him to a period of soul-searching which finally resulted in his uncle introducing him to Christianity.

According to some sources, his parents died while he was still a child, leaving a paternal uncle to care for him. He is said to have been born to relatively affluent Christian parents in Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor, Roman Empire where he also received his early schooling. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. Nicholas became bishop of the city of Myra.

Nicholas was born in Asia Minor during the 3rd century at Patara in the province of Lycia, at a time when the region was Hellenistic in its culture and outlook. Historial accounts often confuse him with the later Nicholas of Sion. Several acts of kindness and miracles are attributed to him. Among Christians, he is also known as the "Miracle Worker".

Nicholas' Eve. In the Netherlands 5 December is known as his feast: this is Sinterklaasavond, or St. His feast day is December 6, presumably the date of his death. 270 - 345/352), was a 4th century bishop and is a Christian saint.

Nicholas of Myra (also Nikolaus) in Lycia, Asia Minor (lived c. . Saint Nicholas is revered by many as the patron saint of seamen, merchants, archers, children, students, prostitutes, pharmacists, lawyers, pawnbrokers, prisoners, the city of Amsterdam and of Russia. Among Orthodox Christians, the historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered.

Sinterklaas (a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas) is a major celebration in the Netherlands and in Flanders (see below). This historical character was the inspiration for a mythical figure known as Nikolaus in Germany and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands and Flanders, which in turn was the inspiration for the myth of Santa Claus. This is as much as is generally known about him in the West. Saint Nicholas is the common name for Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in 4th century Byzantine Lycia (part of modern Turkey), who had a reputation for secret gift-giving.

See Christmas around the world for other information. Nicholas in English speaking countries. See Santa Claus for information about St. Nicholas's feast day.

Boy bishops were formerly appointed on St.

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