Ingrid – May 20, 2019

I ordered a Danish flag online, which arrived in the mail this past weekend. I was so excited to hang it over our balcony railing on the 9th floor of our apartment in Lincoln Park for all to see. Lindsay and I sat outside drinking Carlsbergs, watching to see who would look up and notice it. It’s quite large!

Called the Dannebrog (meaning Danish cloth), Denmark’s flag is the oldest continuously used flag in the world. This year marks its 800th anniversary! Or would that be birthday? Either way, it’s been in existence since the Battle of Lyndanisse against the heathen Estonians in June of 1219. Legend has it that an enormous red and white flag fell out of the sky and destroyed the Danes’ foes.

An old painting of a battle scene.

The Danish flag, Dannebrog, dates back to the Battle of Lyndanisse in June 1219, when a huge red and white flag is said to have fallen from the sky to protect the Danes from enemy Estonians.

While that is certainly the stuff of folklore, what is true is that Danes love their flag with the white-on-red cross. Its representation is everywhere, from Christmas trees to birthday cakes to cucumbers in the supermarket. In fact, no one can fly another flag in Denmark without special permission from the police!

When I visited Copenhagen four summers ago, more than anything, I was struck by the sight of the Dannebrog literally everywhere. It is especially present on holidays and royal birthdays, when busses are festooned with Danish flags and the city is a sea of red and white as far as the eye can see. And no Danish summer home or holiday cottage would be complete without a Danish flag proudly flying.

Birthdays are also popular occasions to display the Dannebrog – and not just royal ones. “Regular folks” bring out the flag decorations for family members’ birthdays, and little Danish flags are a very common cake adornment.

A flyer advertises a summer festival.

The Danish Home’s Annual Summerfest on June 22 will feature a country-western theme and celebration of the Danish flag, the oldest in the world!

Still more special are the miniature Danish flagpoles for the table that make every birthday celebrant feel like royalty. Even high-end Danish design collections like Georg Jensen include those little flagpoles.

Here in the U.S., the American flag has been the subject of some debate over the past few years, centering upon what the flag represents (or not) for whom. In Denmark, however, the flag is said to be more than a testimony of patriotism; it’s a statement of joy. I would have to agree.

Yesterday, when Chicagoans were wondering when the many rainstorms scattered across the area would hit, the times the clouds blew away revealed how gorgeous the red and white Danish flag looks against a brilliant blue sky. Lindsay and I went down to the street level to look up at our new purchase whipping in the generous breeze.

At The Danish Home, plans are underway for another fabulous Summerfest on June 22nd. This year’s theme is “A Little Country in the City,” a fun play on country-western music and style in Chicago as well as the 800th anniversary of “a little country’s” flag. In addition to all the traditional games, Lucky Buckets, food, beverages, music (this year from vintage western swing artists The Westerlees), and more, Summerfest will celebrate eight centuries of the world’s oldest flag!

Lindsay, Farfar and I are already planning what we’ll wear to Summerfest in honor of the Danish flag. I may even see if I can fashion an outfit out of the flag we bought for our balcony, unless that would be disrespectful to the flag in some way – I’ll have to research that! I know the U.S. Flag Code dictates that the American flag be allowed to fall freely, so perhaps a similar code applies to the Dannebrog. Maybe I’ll just stick to wearing red and white!

Whatever we wear, we’re all looking forward to another great summer festival at The Danish Home just over a month from now.

Please join us in celebrating a little country’s ancient flag and “A Little Country in the City”!