All of the Nordic countries except Greenland have adopted such flags in the modern period, and while the Scandinavian cross is named for its use in the national flags of the Scandinavian nations, the term is used universally by vexillologists, in reference not only to the flags of the Nordic countries.
The cross design represents Christianity, and the characteristic shift of the center to the hoist side is early modern, first described the Danish civil ensign (Koffardiflaget) for merchant ships in a regulation of 11 June 1748, which specified the shift of the cross center towards the hoist as "the two first fields must be square in form and the two outer fields must be 6/4 lengths of those". The Danish design was adopted for the flags of Norway (civil ensign 1821) and Sweden (1906), both derived from a common ensign used during the Union between Sweden and Norway 1818–1844, as well as Iceland (1915) and Finland (1917); some of the subdivisions of these countries used this as inspiration for their own flags. The Norwegian flag was the first Nordic cross flag with three colours. All Nordic flags may be flown as gonfalons as well.
Note that some of these flags are historical. Also, note that flag proportions may vary between the different flags and sometimes even between different versions of the same flag.
The Flag of Greenland is the only national flag of a Nordic country or territory without a Nordic Cross. When Greenland was granted home rule, the present flag - with a graphic design unique to Greenland - was adopted on June 1985, supported by fourteen votes against eleven who supported a proposed green-and-white Nordic cross.
Historical Flag of the Kalmar Union, which united Denmark, Sweden and Norway 1397 to 1523. No pictorial evidence survives of the Kalmar Union's Flag. The flag appearing here is a reconstruction based on references in 1430 letters by King Eric of Pomerania.
These flags either do not have official status or represent various private entities. They have not been officially adopted and their use remains limited.
Nordic flag designs very similar to Denmark's, Sweden's, and Norway's national flags were proposed as Germany's national flags in both 1919 and 1948, after World War I and World War II, respectively. Today, the Nordic cross is a feature in some city and district flags or coats of arms.
A number of flags for localities in the United Kingdom (primarily Scotland) are based on Nordic cross designs, intended to reflect the Scandinavian heritage introduced to the British Isles during the Viking Age and through the High Middle Ages.
Flag used by the sailors of Normandy
Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christianity, on their national flag. The so-called Scandinavian crosses or Nordic crosses on the flags of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden–also represent Christianity.
The Christian cross, for instance, is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in the world, and many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland, adopted and currently retain the Christian cross on their national flags.
Legend states that a red cloth with the white cross simply fell from the sky in the middle of the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar, after which the Danes were victorious. As a badge of divine right, Denmark flew its cross in the other Scandinavian countries it ruled and as each nation gained independence, they incorporated the Christian symbol.
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