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Romania - 1989 Revolutionary Flag

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by alex danes
Keywords: romania | hole |
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[1989 Revolutionary Flag] by Jorge Candeias

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About the "holey" flag

The "holey" flag was one of the most important flags in the recent history of the country. This flag was a de facto civil ensign of Romania immediately after the fall of Ceausescu, and is historically important to the point of being offered to the president of the US, being thanked by him as a beautiful "poncho".
Jorge Candeias, 25 May 1998

If we extend your logics a little further, is it possible that the hole borders followed the irregularities of the coat of arms? Or was it just a regular oval? From what I remember from these days*, the holes were "just a regular oval", the easiest way to do this. During these several days we had no TV program on or national TV, but it was whole the time re-broadcasting the "Free Romania TV" that followed the revolution. I remember lots of the flags seen then - and to my best memory they were all oval. However, memory is not a good proof - anyone have some photos from the time?
Željko Heimer, 31 May 1998

I wrote to the White House when the President was presented with the Romanian Flag with the hole in it and the answer I got was that it was not an original flag but a newly made Romanian flag with an oval hole in the center that is hemmed so that the hole will not grow bigger with use! They didn't say, but maybe this is a tourist souvenir in Bucharest!
David Martucci, 27 May1998

I concur with the opinion which is based on the belief that the use of the Romanian flag with a hole was merely because there was no easily obtainable flag without the Communist arms. First, all flags would have been manufactured with the arms in them. This was the law of Romania. Second, I would not think that people could not easily go to the store and buy blue, yellow, and red cloth when a forcible change in government was at hand. Third, the easiest flag to obtain would be a current version; however, to distance themselves from the Ceausescu regime, they would simply remove the arms by cutting them out.

As far as the flag presented to Clinton, I would like to thank Dave Martucci for his actual follow up. Such a gift would be merely a nice gesture toward the US by Romania. Also, I have a friend who used to live in Timosoara, Romania, and now lives in Bucharest. He has sent me a Romanian flag (no hole), but he has not mentioned seeing one with a hole for sale to tourists.

To sum up, I don't believe it matters whether the flag has a circular or oval hole. The fact was that such a flag was used to distance the people from Communism. Also, the flag with the hole was never official. It was a de facto flag of the people. When the people could officially decide, they returned to the plain blue-yellow-red flag.
Calvin Paige Herring, 30 May 1998

During the Revolution people used standard flags bearing the communist coat of arms but, as noted there, they cut out the coat of arms as an act of rebellion against the communism regime. Indeed people could have easily manufactured normal red-yellow-blue flags from normal cloth in the stores, but the Revolution for the vast majority of the people was a spontaneous movement. Few had the presence of spirit to plan anything in advance, the masses moved in the streets without much preparation. While there is no doubt that certain political circles did plan a coup d'etat in advance, the planning certainly did not include the mass manufacturing of normal flags and their distribution to the revolutionary masses. Shortly after, when the regime was overtaken and when such capabilities were available, indeed the holey flag was used further on as a symbol of the revolution, because so many of the population carried such flags in the uprising.
George Barbarosie, 27 October 2003

During the 1989 anti-communist revolution in Romania, from 17 December on, the people started to rip off the socialist coat of arms of Romania from the flags. In fact, any symbol of the communism they caught was destroyed in one way or another in those days. Decree-Law nr. 2 from 27 December 1989 regarding the establishment, organization and functioning of the Council of the National Salvation Front and the territorial councils of the National Salvation Front, on article 1 ruled that "the flag of the country is the traditional tricolor of Romania, having the color stripes placed vertically, in the following order from the hoist: blue, yellow, red".
Alex Danes, 10 October 2008