VIETNAM FLAGS’S HISTORY & MEANINGS

Vietnamese flags are the country's national symbols which always go with the country's ups and downs and reflect Vietnamese culture & history. The current national flag of Vietnam is a red-rectangle flag with a five-pointed golden star at the center. 

Table Contents
  • I - Current national flag 
  • 1 - Vietnam flag history  
  • 2 - Vietnam flags meaning, parameters, colors and symbols
  • 3 - The Vietnam national flag display schedule
  • II - Communist Vietnam flag 
  • III - Flags of Vietnam throughout stages 
  • 1 - Vietnam’s flag through dynasties
  • 2 - Flags of Vietnam war
  • IV - Cultural flag of Vietnam (5-colored flag)
May 05
Flags of Vietnam
Source: Freepik

One of the significant factors used to identify one’s independence as a country is its national flag. Vietnam has undergone many historical ups and downs as well as tons of bloodshed wars to protect our independence and territorial integrity. Therefore, the national flag is not only a simple symbolic image for recognition but also a spiritual symbol representative for our history and great values of freedom of national independence. This post provides knowledge about Vietnam’s national flag origin, historical meanings, its symbolication throughout the year and its culture. 

I - Current national flag 

1 - Vietnam flag history  

On November 23th 1940, it was the first time the red flag with a five - pointed yellow star appeared in the Southern uprising. This armed insurrection against French and Japanese in 1940 was raised by the Southern people of Vietnam and led by a communist - Nguyen Huu Tien.
A year later, in May 1941, the 8th Central Communist Party Conference was held under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, who had great merit in leading and fighting for Vietnam’s independence. The purpose of this conference was to establish the People’s Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, then proclaimed the red flag with a five - pointed yellow star in the center as our national flag. 

 

Vietnam national flag

President Ho Chi Minh - Source: Internet

After that, on the second of September 1945, President Ho Chi Minh read the Independence Declaration. As a result, a Vietnam flag color of red with five - pointed yellow stars was displayed from north to south with the national joy and pride of all Vietnamses people. Three days later, General Vo Nguyen Giap - Vietnam’s military and political commander, on behalf of the contemporary governmental president, signed the Decree No. 5 of abolition of the yellow flag with three red stripes to define the new National flag. 
Until November 1946 the first Constitution clearly stated: The national flag of the country was the red flag with a 5 - pointed yellow star. 
Then, Vietnam began the war against the US (1955 - 1975) and achieved an ending victory on April, 30th 1975. In 1976, after one year the country was completely unified, the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam used this flag as the national flag until today. 

2 - Vietnam flags meaning, parameters, colors and symbols

Article No.13 in the Constitution of the Social Republic of Vietnam stipulates that the National Flag of the Social Republic of Vietnam formed in the shape of a rectangular with the width is two - thirds of its length, a five - pointed yellow star in the center. Vietnam’s flag is red like other communist countries; however, the red color in each country’s national flag represents different meanings depending on its own history & culture. 
President Ho Chi Minh revealed the red is the symbol for soldiers’ blood fighting for national independence. The central yellow star symbolizes our people’s skin color and 5 points represents the integrity of 5 classes of  intellectuals, peasants, workers, traders and soldiers. Vietnam is a country suffering from many war hardships in regaining our independence; therefore, the national flag waving in the sky for peace and freedom is a sacred moment for the whole country. That self-esteem has been passed down through many generations to respect and preserve our national flag. This flag represents a block of great unity with no longer dividing into three regions, no boundaries between communism and the republic, no classes, no hatred. 

3 - The Vietnam national flag display schedule

Travelling to Vietnam on special occasions, tourists will see a lot of red flags with a yellow star covering all corners of streets. Don’t be surprised as it is the time for tourists to experience our history & culture, traditional customs, characteristics of this S-shaped country. The official flag display schedule in Vietnam includes:
 

National flag of Vietnam

Hanoi's street on 30th April - Source: Pham Trong Tung

New year’s eve - January 1st
New Year’s Eve is a holiday occurring on the first of January as a public holiday all over the world. Integrating into that atmosphere, Vietnamese happily welcome the holiday with flags hanging in all households. 
Vietnam Lunar New Year - 23/12-7/1 in Lunar Calendar (or January - February in Solar Calendar)
Lunar New Year in 2022 will take place from 25/01/2022 - 07/02/2022
Tet holiday - the most important festival in Vietnam usually falls between January 21 and February 19. These days, the images of the fluttering red Vietnamese flag harmonizing with the brilliantly colorful flowers make these days in Vietnam more bustling and vibrant.
National day - September 2nd
Taking place on September 2nd every year, National Day celebrates the historic day of the nation's birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Tourists visiting Vietnam these days will enjoy the joyful atmosphere fully covered by the flag and flowers.
Reunification day - April 30th
This day presents the ending of the Vietnam war event when the Vietnam People’s Army and the Southern Liberation Army entered Saigon. People hang the red flags to show pride in Vietnam’s victory, great achievement in our national liberation path. The image of the red Vietnamese flag with fresh flowers makes the atmosphere become more and more cheerful and vibrant. 
International Labor day - May 1st
The international labor day, along with the Reunification day, Vietnamese people have two-day off. At this time, to show our national pride and gratitude to our heroes and martyrs who devoted themselves during the war for the independence and freedom of Vietnam, our country has other historical days honored with flagging such as: Party establishment on February 03, War Invalids and Martyrs day on July 27th, Establishment of People’s Army on December 22nd. 
Tips: If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, you should not miss the Flag Raising - Lowering Ceremony in Ba Dinh Square. This is a national - level ceremony taking place daily at 6am in summer and at 6:30am in winter, ending at 9am. 

II - Communist Vietnam flag 

Socialist Vietnam is a political institution where the Communist Party took over leadership. Immediately after the establishment of the Party on March 2nd 1930, the Communist flag or the Party flag with red background and overlapping yellow sickle and hammer image - a prominent symbol of communism representing the unity of the working class and the peasants appeared in the 1930-1931 Soviet Nghe Tinh movement.

 

Communist Vietnam flag

Source: Thai Trien

Visitors will not see many Party flags hanging freely because locals do not hang the Party flag at will, and need to follow announcements from the City People's Committee and local government about the starting and ending time of flag display schedule on holidays and political events. The Party flag is hung with the National Flag on holidays such as the establishment of the Party on February 3rd or the Party Congress.

III - Flags of Vietnam throughout stages 

The definition of national flags appeared in many Asian countries  after the XVI century, including Vietnam. The symbol of the red flag with a yellow star is embedded in Vietnamese’s minds even though diverse flag images were introduced during the time the country was divided. 

1 - Vietnam’s flag through dynasties

In period of 1788 - 1802: Official flag in Tay Son dynasty
The Tay Son Dynasty designed a red flag with yellow color on the outer border. This red color was chosen by three brothers of Nguyen Nhac, Nguyen Lu, Nguyen Hue during the Tay Son uprising because it represented luck. In the historical context from 1788-1802, Nguyen Hue ascended the throne, changed the national flag with a red background, yellow border and added a circle in the center. It was explained in the feudal concept that the circle symbolized the star seen from the ground. After the interference of Western culture, the central circle was replaced by a 5-pointed star. Hence, it can be seen that today’s national flag of Vietnam is inspired by the flag in the Tay Son dynasty. . 
In period of 1802 - 1885: Flag in Nguyen dynasty from king Gia Long to king Tu Duc
Long Tinh Ky (Dragon, Star, Flag) was the name of the national flag under the Nguyen dynasty, which underwent many ups and downs in its history. The flag background was colored in yellow of royalty while its border was green dragon-scale and the central circle was masculine redness.  
In period of 1885 - 1890: Flag under King Dong Khanh in Nguyen dynasty
The own standard of the flag of Vietnam under King Dong Khanh was the vertical script “Dai Nam” written in Chinese letters in the middle of the yellow background - the official name of Vietnam during this time.
In period of 1890 - 1945:  Long Tinh Flag, flag from King Thanh Thai to King Bao Dai in Nguyen dynasty
During the period of 1890-1920, King Thanh Thai redesigned the national flag with different details. The red color in the background symbolized the red blood while the  central yellow stripe represented its royal origin as well as Vietnamese race’s skin color creating 3 stripes representing three regions of North, Central and South of Vietnam. The flag remained the same before being changed into one red stripe on the yellow background.

2 - Flags of Vietnam war

In period of 1883-1945: French Indochina Federation
Under the French government of Indochinese Federation protection, French stipulated a new national flag of the French tricolor flag on the top left corner of a yellow background, marking Vietnam as a French colonial country. 
In period of 1945: Empire of Vietnam

 

Flags of Vietnam war

Source: Wikipedia

The Japanese Empire implemented the coup d’état against the French colonialists, meanwhile King Bao Dai declared Independence under Japan's protection. On May 8th 1945, the Li hexagram flag - the yellow flag with one horizontal red stripe representing the Li hexagram  of the Bagua eight - sign figure - was approved as the national flag. However, due to the historical happenings, in the afternoon on August 30th 1945, King Bao Dai abdicated. In fact, the Li hexagram flag in Vietnam was never adopted.
In period of 1945-1976: Democratic Republic of Vietnam
The red flag with yellow star appeared on September 2nd 1945 in the Independence Declaration Ceremony at Ba Dinh Square. On September 5th 1945, Decree No. 05 abolished the Li hexagram flag and officially defined the red flag with 5-pointed yellow star as the national flag until today.
In period of 1946 - 1955
During the war against French from 1946 to 1954, French government desired to split Vietnam into autonomous territorial entities. In the period of 1946-1948, the Autonomous Republic of the South selected the national flag with yellow background and 3 blue stripes intersecting with 2 horizontal white stripes as the official flag of south vietnam, representing three Southern rivers of Dong Nai, Tien Giang, Hau Giang. In the latter period 1948-1955, Thailand Autonomous Federation adopted the flag with the ratio of 2:3 of white stripes and blue ones intersecting each other and a 16-point red star attached in the center of the white stripe. 
In period of 1949 - 1955
On the second of June 1948, the Provisional Government of Vietnam adopted the three-red-stripe flag, symbolizing three regions of the North, Central, South in Vietnam, as the national flag and it was used even after the Vietnam National period from 1949 to 1955 and the First and Second period of Republic Vietnam 1955-1975 as well.
In period of 1969 - 1976: The South Republic of Vietnam  flag of south vietnam
In 1969, the South Republic of Vietnam Government was established against the Vietnam Republic Government. The national flag was changed into 2 colors of the upper red and the lower blue with a central yellow star. This flag was used until the red flag with a 5-pointed star was officially adopted. 
Tips: Tourists can easily find the red T-shirts with a yellow 5-pointed star as souvenirs around the local markets or in tourism destinations all over the country. The price ranges from 100.000 to 150.000 VND (~$4.31-$6.47)

IV - Cultural flag of Vietnam (5-colored flag)

Vetnamese flag

Source: Redsvn

It is not officially recorded about the exact time the 5-color flag first appeared. It is all based on ancient pictures of “Trung Vuong uprising” and “Trieu Au dispatching” to realize the existence of the flag from the Hai Ba Trung period (40 - 43). A 5-color flag with squares surrounding it is the oldest traditional flag recorded in Vietnam. The five colors originated from the Eastern Law of Five Elements which contains green (wood), red (fire), yellow (earth), white (metal), purple (water). 
Why do I see the color arrangement in 5-color Vietnam flags is not the same in different Vietnamese festivals
To explain the above question, it is based on different beliefs to select the central color and other surrounding ones depending on the Law of Five Elements. Therefore, each 5-color flag will have distinct color arrangements in each festival, temple, communal house, pagoda every year. Typical festivals are Giong Festival in Phu Dong temple - Hanoi, Do Son Buffalo fighting festival in Hai Phong, Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival, Hung temple festival, Xu Princess festival in An Giang,...
Flags of Vietnam reflecting historical events, representing all races and classes is Vietnamese’s pride and symbol of culture and history as well. Therefore, this article is hoped to provide more helpful information to Vietnamese culture under the tourists’ multidimensional perspectives. 

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Hi, my name is Quan, and you can call me “Kun”. Having a big passion for travel, I spent 6 months traveling to most of the regions & provinces in Vietnam. I find Vietnam's landscapes are so beautiful, Vietnamese people are so friendly.

— Quan Nguyen

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