Valdemarsdag or Flag Day each June 15 is a festive holiday in Denmark, a great excuse for parties and painting faces in the red and white colors of this important national symbol – Dannebrog. Perhaps no other country celebrates its flag as much – right down to birthday cake and Christmas tree decorations. As the legend goes, the flag fell from heaven in 1219 during a battle in Estonia, inspiring Danish soldiers to turn around a hopeless situation to claim victory. The very same flag allegedly survived until 1660, when it flapped itself to tatters over Schleswig Cathedral. The design persisted, though, and Denmark claims to have the longest standing flag design in the world today.
There is controversy, however, about whether this legend is true. Not about whether a flag miraculously fell out of the sky or whether it transformed exhausted, battered soldiers into vanquishers. Rather, historians debate whether the flag appeared in the Estonian battle of 1219 or an earlier one in 1208. Regardless, since the actual month and day of the 1208 battle are unknown, the chances are that 15 June – with its long span of daylight and potential for nice summer weather – will remain the celebratory Flag Day.
- Painting of Dannebrog falling from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse, June 15, 1219. By Christian August Lorentzen in 1809. Original located at Denmark’s Statens Museum for Kunst
- http://denmark.dk/en/quick-facts/national-flag (in English)
- http://danmarkshistorien.dk/leksikon-og-kilder/vis/materiale/myte-faldt-dannebrog-ned-fra-himlen-i-1219 (in Danish)
- http://denstoredanske.dk/Samfund,_jura_og_politik/Flag,_emblemer_og_heraldik/Flag_i_verden/Danmark_(Nationalflag) (in Danish)