Oct 9, 2012

European Union v. USA and Brazil

Brazilian and American flags have a great problem in common: the number of stars. This post will talk about this issue, and how European Union took the right decision to avoid the problem.

The Brazilian flag is, by far, one of more easily distinguishable: the yellow rhombus on green field is pretty unique between the national flags. The biggest problems with it is the writing, that may ever be avoided in a flag, and a extremely complex set of 27 stars, organized between the most seem constellations in Southern Hemisphere. The number of stars reflects the 26 states and the Federal District. When the flag was first designed, in 1889, the number of stars was 21, as was the number of federated states (counting the Federal District). Since then, the flag have the number of stars changed three times. The stars and the motto makes the flag very complicated to be correctly made.

Now, we'll talk about other extreme case: the flag of United States of America (it's important to note that the first Brazilian Republican flag was inspired in this one):

The national American have is composed of thirteen horizontal stripes (seven are red and six are white) and a  blue canton with fifty stars, representing the fifty American states (the District of Columbia isn't in account). Since the design with stars were firstly adopted, in 1776, the number of stars were officially changed 26 times — the flag has been changed in an average interval of nine years! Positively fifty is a great number to any element of a flag. Compare with the famous "Betsy Ross flag", with only thirteen stars:

Wouldn't be easier if the number of stars were fixed since then? Or if this design returns? Aesthetically, yes, but probably many people would disagree. This kind of solution was adopted by European Union flag, originally adopted by Council of Europe, in 1955.

The flag consists in a blue field, inspired by the flag of Paneuropean Union (see its flag now and then), and twelve golden stars in a golden arrangement. These elements sometimes remembers the way Virgin Mary is depicted in Book of Revelations (see example), but it's hard to know if it was a real inspiration. The first proposal had fifteen stars, because then this was the number of member states of Council of Europe, but one of the members, the Saar Protectorate, was a disputed area, and West Germany objected the start for Saar. So they fixed the number of stars in twelve, because the number symbolizes perfection and has no special political connotation.

What's your opinion about the flags presented there, or the post content? Your comment is welcome!


  1. I love all three flags, and think that the US flag is complex, but boldy complex, much like the Brazilian flag. The US flag has not changed since 1960, with very little chance that it will soon, so 50 stars and 13 stripes is pretty easy to remember and great symbolism.

    1. Don't say it to Puerto Ricans... No, seriously, the American flag isn't bad - if it was, maybe wouldn't be so copied. Actually, if you weren't historian, you won't have problem, it doesn't matter to you how many star there were in 1864. We probably lived all our life seeing the 50-stared Old Glory, but you can't say it won't change anymore. Come on, 26 times are too much! And, if all state proposal ever made have accomplished, there would be more than 70 stars!

      The Brazilian flag has worst lucky. I don't know where they are finding so many constellations...

      Thank you for the comment! Bye.


Every comment is greatly welcome!