When Frisians from different regions meet, their different flags appear as well. They represent a unique mixture of people and traditions, which are rooted in a glorious and ancient history. The flags of Westlauwersk Frisia and North-Frisia are officially registered and recognized. In 2004, members of the Groep fan Auwerk attended an Interfrisian meeting at Deat lünn. The group raised a question—why not have one common flag all Frisians can identify themselves with and recognize? During the winter of 2005-2006, we held numerous meetings. The group exchanged ideas, philosophies, and possible drawings. The experts from the Frisian Heraldic Council gave us their advice, and eventually their approval. We presented the Interfrisian flag at the commemoration of the battle of Warns on September 23, 2006.
The Scandinavian type
Our new flag is of the Scandinavian type—the sort of flag countries from the North and Baltic Sea regions use. Genetically, but especially culturally, we are related to Scandinavians. The flag's basic design comes from Norway and Iceland, countries who, like Friesland, protect their old principles and democracy. The Netherlands—and most other European countries—have a flag with horizontal lines. This indicates the Indo-European differentiation between the rich, the middle-class, and the poor. The flags of Westlauwersk Fryslân and Groningen draw heavily from this design. The Scandinavian, English/Scottish, and Basque flags all show “different intentions.”
The cross reflects the Christianity of the Frisians. The elements from the Danish and United Kingdom flags reference the crusades, where the Frisians were also involved.
By the first millennium, the Frisians were fighting for the pope and church. Frisians formed the “Swiss guard” of those days. The church of St. Michael and Magnus in Rome, as well as the monument to Friso in southern France, refer to those times.
The cross also has a more ancient background. Originally, the cross was a sign for the sun. The sun makes two movements—horizontally each day from east to west, and vertically throughout the year from south to north. Roman drawings of Celtic shields display these metal crosses. Crosses in prehistoric Swedish petroglyphs have also been interpreted as signs of the sun. Moving the vertical line to the left reinforces the cross shape. The rectangular area is the earth. The flag symbolizes the sun caressing the earth and bringing it light and warmth. Directly or indirectly, the sun is the source of energy which makes our planet a comfortable place to live.
The Indo-Europeans divided time and space into four parts. Prehistoric drawings used a rectangle divided into four pieces to represent the earth. Karel the Great employed a system of twelves in ancient Mesopotamia, and Napoleon introduced the decimal scheme to France. But the old quadripartial system was never forgotten, and the quadripartial wind rose remains officially recognized. People still celebrate jubilees at 12.5 or with 25 years. We speak of Westergo and Oostergo, of West Fryslân, West-Frisia, East-Frisia and North-Frisia, and of the Zuiderlaag and of the North East polder. Our flag displays this quadripartial idea.
All the flag's colors come from existing Frisian flags. Yellow comes from the flags of North-Friesland and Saterland, as well as Westlauwersk-Friesland, and the golden lions of North-Holland. Blue is in every Frisian flag. White comes from the flags of Helgoland, Westlauwersk-Frisia, Westergo, and the Ommelanden. Red is from the pompeblêden is in the Westlauwersk-Frisian and Groningen coat of arms, and also the flags of Oostergo, Saterland, East-Frisia, Deat lünn, and North-Frisia.
Golden yellow is the flag's main color. Gold stands for the fertile ground covered with butter flowers, nuts, and colza. Also, the dikes which protect Friesland are called the "golden ring". Golden yellow evokes images of rulers who covered themselves with golden jewelry, as well as a desire for a beautiful future.
Each of the four yellow sections features one of the pompeblêden, which is a type of water lily (Nympaea alba). They stand for the contemporary mixture of Frisian lands—West, East, North, and South. Red stands for power. A single force has never held power over all Frisia. The pompeblêden represent cooperation and equality.
Ancient coat of arms and flags from Northern people are strewn with pompeblêden. Initially they were nails which kept leather on wooden shields. The hearts were related to water lily leaves—yellow leaf splashes on lime trees. The lime symbolizes the female, as opposed to the male oak tree. Celtic warriors painted their bodies with pompeblêden. Pompeblêden also represent the female body. It's a feminine symbol that has always influenced the Ingweonen tribes along the North sea.
Blue stands for the abundant water throughout the Frisian lands, from the canals to the lakes to the sea. The white cross holds the four sections of the flag together. It represents the white sunlight which gleams along the water and shines on the earth. It also represents peace.
The Frisians have always opposed aggressive warfare. But if attacked, they applied their code: "rather dead than slave." In the past, Frisians were torn apart and made citizens of several national states. But positive European developments mean we are now able to meet in peace.
The flag symbolizes Frisian ideas and ideals. At the same time it visualizes the ideals and dreams which have never lost their meaning. We hope the Interfrisian flag will speak for and to our people.
Groep fan Auwerk