The flag of Vietnam is a red rectangle with a large gold star in the center. It is called Cờ đỏ sao vàng in Vietnamese, which literally means “red flag with a gold star.” The flag was adopted in September of 1945 and designed by Nguyễn Hữu Tiến in 1940. It was used to represent rebellion against the French rule at that time. The flag’s colors represent a typical communist movement symbolism, which includes red as revolution and blood. The star is gold, another communist color, and represents the five primary societal classes of Vietnam. These classes are: intellectuals, farmers, businessmen, workers and the military.
There are other alternative meanings connected to the flag, mostly according to the words of its alleged designer, Nguyễn Hữu Tiến. He said the flag’s gold star stood for the color of his race’s skin. The red also stood for blood shed for the nation and the five points indeed represented the five classes. However, in 2001, the Ministry of Culture declared that no proof existed to name Tiến as the flag’s designer. Later, in 2005, a Tiền Giang official said instead that a man named Lê Quang Sô designed the flag. According to this story, the flag was red because of the communist tradition and the star was merely an aesthetic touch.
Vietnam has had other flags in its past before communist rule. The first flag in 1778 was a plain red rectangle. In 1788, the flag of the emperors Quang Trung and Quang Toản was a red rectangle with a gold circle in the center, and then a fringed gold border. A similar flag came to be in 1802 and that one had a yellow rectangle with a red circle and a fringed blue border. This flag was called Long tinh kỳ, or the Dragon Star Flag. Red, blue and gold are traditional imperial colors in China. In 1885, a yellow rectangle with red characters was in use. These were the Chinese characters for Great South (Dai Nam), which was the name of the country at that time. Both characters were rotated 90 degrees so the bottoms faced each other on the flag. From 1890 to 1945, a variation of red and gold horizontal flags were used and then the flag of South Vietnam was a briefly a gold background with three thin red horizontal bands in the center.