Belarus is a country in eastern Europe bordered by Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. Like Belarus itself, the flag of Belarus has a long and contentious history.
In the 14th century, Belarus was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. There is a legend that, in a battle, a wounded prince took off his bloody white head bandage and used it as a flag. The colors white and red have always been important in the culture of Belarus, as they stood for purity and the blood of Christ. They were incorporated into the flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, along with the image of a white mounted knight.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Belarus was part of a union state between Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Then the flag had two horizontal red stripes and a white stripe between, with the banner of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The banner featured two white knights and two white eagles. In 1795, the union was broken up, and Belarus became part of the Russian empire. In 1917, Belarus adopted a white flag with one horizontal red stripe in the middle, and in 1918, when Belarus was under German occupation, the People’s Republic of Belarus was proclaimed. The new People’s Republic also chose a flag with the traditional red and white colors.
After 1919, Belarus became part of the Soviet Union, and had an all-red flag. In 1951, the green stripe was added at the bottom, when Belarus joined the United Nations. Also, a traditional red and white pattern was added on the left. After the fall of communism, Belarus became an independent republic and adopted a white flag with a red stripe in the middle again. But in 1995, it was replaced by the current red, white, and green flag similar to the Soviet flag from 1951.
The colors of the Belorussian flag have modern significance. The red is for brotherhood, and the green is for the land and for peace. The white color represents freedom and wisdom. The red and white pattern on the left goes back to a time when symbols were used instead of writing, and stands for diligence and a good harvest.
After a long history of conflicts, the colors of the modern Belorussian flag reflect the hope for good times, and for lasting peace.