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Finland - Flag Law

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Finland Flag Law

(Dated May 26, 1978; Act No. 380/78)

The Finnish flag includes a blue cross on white background. The flag is either national or state flag.

The national flag is rectangular and its proportions are:
    1) width 11 and length 18 measure units;
    2) width of arm of the cross 3 measure units; and
    3) width of the fields 4, length of the hoist fields 5 and length of the fly fields 10 measure units.

The state flag is either rectangular or swallow-tailed. It includes the coat-of-arms of the state in the middle square formed by the arms of the cross. The square has a yellow contour, the width of which is 1/40 of the width of the cross.

The rectangular state flag has the same proportions as the national flag.

The swallow-tailed state flag is one mesure unit longer, so that the length of its fly fields is 6 and the length of the tails 5 measure units. The middle tail is isosceles and the arm of the cross forms its base. The outer tails do not form angle with the upper or lower side of the flag.

Everybody has the right to use the national flag.

All Finnish vessels use as a nationality sign the national flag, apart from those mentioned in the fifth paragraph. A yacht may use as its nationality sign a special flag; a separate statute will be given for further regulations.

The rectangular state flag is to be used by the Parliament; the Government and its ministries; the Supreme Court; the Supreme Administrative Court; central administration boards and all comparable civil service departments and institutions; Courts of Appeal; provincial governments; ecclesiastical chapters; the Orthodox Synod; Finnish embassies and consulates and all comparable diplomatical representations; the Bank of Finland; the National Pension Fund; the Finnish Academy; frontier guard; state universities and high schools; and state's vessels.

Institutions, apart from those mentioned in the first clause, can be given the right to use the rectangular state flag with a separate statute.

The swallow-tailed state flag is to be used by the Defence Forces, its departments, institutions, units, and vessels.

President of the Republic uses a swallow-tailed state flag with a blue-yellow Cross of Freedom in the upper hoist field.

It is not allowed to add any extra signs to the Finnish flag, apart from cases mentioned in this law.

A swallow-tailed flag with a special sign in the upper hoist field may be used as a command flag of Minister of Defence or Commander of the Defence Forces and as a navy command flag in armed vessels. President of the Republic determines the form of that sign.

The Government will give more detailed specifications about the colours of the Finnish flag.

The one who damages the Finnish flag, or treats it in an disrespectful way, or without permission takes off an openly out-put Finnish flag, shall be fined for disgracing the Finnish flag.

The one who without permission uses the flag of President of the Republic or other state flag, or sells a Finnish flag with extra signs that are prohibited in the sixth paragraph, or sells as a Finnish flag such flag that does not fulfill the regulations in this law or other instructions, shall be fined for disobeying regulations about the Finnish flag.

More detailed regulations about enforcing of this law and about flagging with the Finnish flag will be given in a separate statute.

This law takes effect on June 1, 1978. This law revokes the Law about the Finnish flag, given on May 29, 1918.

A association flag or other flag that is against the sixth paragraph of this law may be used till the end of year 1980.

Translation by:
Ossi Raivio 30 September 1996

Statute About Flagging with the Finnish Flag

(Given on May 26, 1978; Act No. 383/78)

Due to Prime Minister's proposal based on the 9 of the Law About the Finnish Flag (380/78) this is prescribed:

If a building is used by state's bureau or institute or building is Aland Island's official building, a Finnish flag shall be rised on it or nearby it on an official flagging day. The flag has to be that kind of Finnish flag, which the bureau is prescribed to use.

The official flagging days are:
    1) February 28, day of Kalevala, the day of Finnish culture;
    2) May 1, day of Finnish work;
    3) second Sunday of May, Mother's Day;
    4) June 4, day of flag celebration of the Defence Forces;
    5) Saturday between July 20 and July 26, Midsummer Day, the day of the Finnish flag;
    6) December 6, Independence Day;
    7) the day, when national election, municipal election, European Parliament election or advisory referendum is being held everywhere in the Republic;
    8) the day, when President of the Republic takes office.

Each ministry can in special occasion order state's bureaus and institutes to flag nationally or in single municipalities even when it is not an official flagging day.

Ministries and provincial governments can order bureaus and institutes subjected to them to flag even when it is not an official flagging day.

State's bureau or institute has right to flag due to a special celebration or when a common flagging is being held in its home municipality.

State's vessel shall flag according to international habits.

Flagging begins at 8.00 and ends when the sun sets, not later than at 21.00. The chief of a bureau or institute can order to make an exception to this due to some special reason or due to local circumstances.

The flagging on the day of the Finnish flag begins on Midsummer Eve at 18.00 and ends on Midsummer Day at 21.00. On Independence Day and on such election day, when the voting ends after the sunset, flagging ends at 20.00.

If the Finnish flag is used publicly with other flags, standards, pennants, or comparable, the Finnish flag has to be placed in the most valuable position.

Each ministry gives more detailed orders about flagging.

This statute takes effect on June 1, 1978.
This statute revokes:
    1) the statute about official use of the Finnish flag and about public flagging with other kinds of flags, given on April 27, 1934 (178/34), with its later changes;
    2) the statute about the flags and pennants of the National Board of Navigation, given on March 18, 1919;
    3) the statute about using Finnish state flags, given on November 12, 1920 (283/20); and
    4) the statute about pilot, postal and customs flags, given on April 14, 1939 (117/39).

Translation by:
Ossi Raivio 02 October 1996

The origin of the choice of the 4th of June is explained on as follows:

Mannerheim's birthday, the 4th of June, was nominated the Flag Day of the Defence Forces by a decision of the government on 4 June, 1942. The Flag Day is celebrated with a national parade, rewardings and promotions From 1918 till 1942 the Flag Day was celebrated on 16 May, the anniversary of the end of the War of Independence. Up to 1939 a parade was organized on the 16th of May. In spring 1940 the parade was replaced by the nation-wide memorial day of those fallen in action. This arrangement then became annual.

The long career of Marshall Carl Gustav Emil von Mannerheim (1867-1951) is explained in great details in the aforementioned website.
Ivan Sache, 12 June 2002

The Day of the Finnish Flag

The Day of the Finnish Flag is celebrated on Midsummer, i.e. the Saturday between June 20 and June 26.

The flag is raised on Midsummer Eve (Friday) at 18.00 and it stays hoisted all night. Flag is lowered on Midsummer Day (Saturday) evening at 21.00.

Midsummer is a very old and traditional Finnish feast and it dates back to pre-Christian period. I don't know why it was selected as the Day of the Finnish Flag. Perhaps it was thought that Midsummer would be a nice day to keep the flag hoisted all night.

That day is one of our official flag days, which means that all government and municipal institutes, offices, schools etc. are obliged to hoist the flag.
Ossi Raivio 07 September 1998

Official colour shades of the Finnish flag

"Official" Pantone and "approx." CMYK
B: 294c / 100-55-0-15
R: 186c / 0-90-80-5
Y: 123c / 0-30-95-0
Santiago Dotor, 9 February 2001

According to the legislation the blue is officially
Y = 5.86, x = 0.1856, y = 0.1696 (Comission Internationale de l'Eclairage = CIE 1931)
or L* = 29.06, a* = 7.24, b* = -36.98 (CIE 1976).

Official approximations are 294C (Pantone) and 4060-R90B (Natural Colour System, Swedish standard SS 01 91 22).

I have used RGB colour 0-51-204 in my drawings. One could claim that the actual colour is slightly darker, but 0-51-204 is not very badly off.
Ossi Raivio, 22 September 2001