Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flag Day

The sixteenth of February is Lithuanian Independence Day - one of eleven times a year (including Constitution Day, Lāčplēsis Day and three separate commemorations of the victims of communist genocide) when Latvians are required by law to mount the maroon and red stripes to the front of their house or risk a fifty lat fine.
Flying the flag is a big thing in a country that has been independent for fewer than fifty of the last nine hundred years. In 2007 a group of drunk Spanish tourists were arrested for trampling on a flag in the Old Town; the foreign ministry has recently stipulated the exact shade of Latvian red that must be used by manufacturers; and on June the seventeenth, which marks the beginning of the Soviet occupation, householders can be fined for not having a black ribbon exactly one-twentieth of the width of the flag tied to the pole.


hkorbust said...

When I studied in Beijing many years ago a classmate stole the Chinese flag from the university grounds as a trophy. He kept it in his student flat when he returned home. Had he been caught, I suspect a major diplomatic incident would have ensued!

Garry Nixon said...

Do foreigners have to display it too? I wouldn't mind - flags are great fun.

Michael said...

I wouldn't mind either. There was one hanging from the entrance to my building in the morning but they took it down when it started snowing. I'll have to nick one before I go home.