A Brief Look at the History and Symbolism of the Flag of Lithuania

History and Symbolism of the Flag of Lithuania
The horizontal tricolor of yellow, green, and red was officially accepted as the national flag of Lithuania on March 20, 1989. We discuss the various transitions of the Lithuanian flag and its history.
Did You Know?
The famous serial-killer character of Hannibal Lecter from the Silence of the Lambs hails from Lithuania.
There's much to Lithuania than people with difficult names to pronounce. For starters, Lithuania is a place straight out of a fairy tale book; you have majestic churches, the enchanting historical town of Vilnius Old Town, the devastatingly beautiful Ventė Cape that doesn't just boast of breathtaking landscapes, but also hosts an avian festival (read: ornithological station) during September and October where around 3 million birds pay visit to this beautiful place every day! We would be great remiss if we forgot to include the halcyon pilgrim center of The Hill of Crosses, one of the most peaceful places on Earth to visit.

The enthralling country of Lithuania may have endured long periods of foreign rule, but today, those very influences define Lithuania and have contributed to the beauty of this Baltic state.

In the following, we discuss the history and symbolism of the flag of Lithuania, which too like Lithuania underwent changes as time elapsed.
HISTORY
first tricolor Lithuanian flag
Earlier tricolor version of the Lithuanian flag
▶ The earliest known Lithuanian flag was recorded in the 15th century, which was known as Vytis. Vytis (pursuit-rider) shows a mounted knight, onrushing with the sword held upward.

▶ This banner first came to be used as the Lithuanian war flag and was used to be carried by the armies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (a European state founded by the earlier Lithuanians), and then in 2004, it came to be adopted as the state flag.
▶ The other banner that was used alongside the Vytis was a red banner with the Columns of Gediminas insignia (somewhat similar to the Trident symbol) and was borne by the noble families of Lithuania at the Battle of Grunwald.

▶ The first tricolor flag of Lithuania was made of red, white, and green horizontal bands, and was used to represent Lithuania Minor.

▶ The French tricolor flag of blue, white, and red served as an inspiration to the birth of the first Lithuanian tricolor flag.
MODERN FLAG SYMBOLISM
Lithuanian flag present
Present tricolor Lithuanian flag
▶ Due to the intricacies involved in sewing the Vytis insignia and other political reasons, the Lithuanians favored the tricolor design for their national flag.

▶ The colors used in the Lithuanian national flag have their origin in the traditional dress and folk weaving of earlier Lithuanians.
▶ The tricolor flag of yellow, green, and red have a distinct symbolic significance.
  • The horizontal yellow band, which forms the top of the Lithuanian flag represents the Sun, and the golden wheat fields of prosperity.
  • The middle, horizontal green band represents forests, fields, and hope.
  • The horizontal red band at the bottom stands for the blood that was spilled to achieve independence.
▶ However, during the Second World War when the Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia took possession of Lithuania, use of the tricolor national flag was forbidden.

▶ When Russian forces successfully drove the Germans out of Lithuania, the first flag that was used under the Soviet Socialist Republic was a simple Soviet flag with the golden hammer, Latin designation, and a sickle symbol.

▶ After 1963, the flag underwent a change that included two colors―red and green with the hammer and sickle and star symbol at the hoist.

▶ However, in 1988, after realizing Lithuania's longing to have an independent state and a year before its formal independence, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet acknowledged the tricolor flag, which followed the 1:2 Soviet flags ratio. The flag ratio was revised in 2004, which altered it from 1:2 to 3:5.
It is mandatory for the residents of three Baltic states to fly their national flags on their respective independence days.