The flag of Turkey has a red field with a white crescent moon and a white star. Both of these symbols have a long history in the region.
The crescent moon and star together were used by many people in ancient times, including the Sumerians and Babylonians. The Sumerians combined them with a circle to represent the sun, moon, and stars. For the Babylonians, it was a symbol of the sun and moon gods working together.
Later, the crescent moon became associated with Islam. In 1448, Turkey won the Battle of Kosovo, establishing the Ottoman Empire, which lasted until the 19th century. There is a legend that on the battlefield a crescent moon and star appeared in a pool of blood, as a sign of the empire’s power and longevity. Another legend is that Kemal Ataturk saw a crescent and star in blood after a victorious battle in Turkey’s war for independence.
When Istanbul was Byzantium, it used the crescent moon because its patroness was Artemis, the goddess of the moon. When the Emperor Constantine became Christian and renamed the city Constantinople, he dedicated it to the Virgin Mary and added the star to the city’s symbols. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, but they retained the images of the star and crescent moon. For a while the Ottoman Empire displayed three crescent moons on its flag, but after the 16th century only one was used.
The modern Turkish flag was established by Sultan Selim the Third in 1793. At that time, the Turkish navy’s flag was green, but it was changed to red to match the nation’s flag. The star on the Turkish flag was not always 5-pointed. Sultan Selim’s flag had a multi-pointed star, and the 5-pointed star was adopted in 1844. In 1923, the Republic of Turkey was formed, but the flag of the Ottoman Empire was kept.
Today, the Turkish flag commemorates the war for independence that was fought from 1919 to 1923. The red represents the blood of those who fought, and the crescent moon and star stand for independence. The flag is honored, and flag burning and wearing images of the flag are prohibited.
Although its symbols are very ancient, the specifications of the modern Turkish flag were established and adopted into law on June 5, 1936. In the Turkish flag, the ancient and modern meet.