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Azerbaijan Celebrates National Flag Day

By Mushvig Mehdiyev November 9, 2017

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Performers depict the flag of Azerbaijan during the opening ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games at the Olympic Stadium on June 12, 2015 / Tom Pennington / Getty Images for BEGOC

Azerbaijan celebrates National Flag Day on Thursday, November 9, to honor the country’s nearly 100-year old history and emblazoned within the Caspian country’s tricolor flag, which was adopted and first raised in 1918.

“Our flag is our source of pride. Our flag is our soul, our heart,” Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said in 2010 during the commemoration of National Flag Square, located along the Caspian Sea promenade in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.

In November 1918, after the collapse of the Russian empire and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was created, the government made a decision that the country’s flag would consist of three horizontal bands in equal size, of blue, red and green colors, with a white crescent and an eight-pointed star in the center.

In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Azerbaijan once more gaining sovereignty, Üçrəngli Bayraq (“the tricolor flag”) was adopted once again.

In 2009, President Aliyev signed a decree making the ninth of November a public holiday, called National Flag Day, to commemorate the country’s history and pay respects to a flag that withstood the tests of time.

The uppermost band of blue on the flag symbolizes the Turkic identification of ethnic Azerbaijanis. The middle band of red is symbolic of the modern society, democracy and progress. The green band represents Azerbaijan’s connection to Islam, the predominant religion in a country of nearly 10 million.

There are various theories and disagreements over the reason for an eight-pointed star on Azerbaijan’s flag, but one idea suggests it relates to the territory’s ancient history.

Archeological findings in western Shemkir and northwestern Sheki regions have shown that ancient tribes inhabiting Azerbaijan had their own flags during the Bronze Age (4th – 2nd millennium B.C.), meant to distinguish the ancient tribes from one another. Archeologists found circular bronze boards and bronze planks in different shapes with various decorations, including a horned deer, an eight-pointed star, and a radiant sun.

Some say the star symbolizes the spelling of the word “Azerbaijan” in ancient alphabets, including Arabic, in which the word consists of eight letters. Others claim the star is also a symbol of Turkic ideology, which together with the crescent creates a complete Turkic identification of ethnic Azerbaijanis.

Specifications for the tricolor are enshrined in Clause 23 of the country’s constitution, and is considered one of the state’s symbols, alongside the national anthem and the national emblem.