To foreigners, Danes may seem to have a peculiar relationship with their seemingly omnipresent flag, Dannebrog.
In fact, there exists a national society called Danmarks-Samfundet, which is wholly devoted promulgating awareness of the flag’s history and its appropriate use.
There are a number of customary rules concerning the flag, including correct proportions, facing the flag when it is being raised, never letting it touch ground, and lowering the flag before sundown.
In fact, having Dannebrog raised after sundown is commonly referred to among Danes as ‘flying the flag for the Devil’ (at flage for Fanden), due to an old superstition dating back centuries, and is still considered a major faux-pas among the flag-enthusiastic Danes.
The one exception to that particular rule is if adequate lighting is projected towards the flag after sundown, most often a spotlight, which allows Dannebrog to be flown at special events such as state visits or major sports events.
However, some retail vendors have used this exception as a loophole to begin launching an ad campaign for a solar-powered LED light that can be placed on top of flagpoles, which automatically turns on after sundown, thereby sparing those who simply do not have the time or energy to make the effort of lowering the flag before nightfall.
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This has led Danmarks-Samfundet to issue a press release informing Danes that this is, essentially, cheating.
“We do not doubt that the LED light gives sufficient lighting to commercial banners, but Danmarks-Samfundet can under no circumstances support that it is used for our national symbol,” the press release stated.
Head of the society Erik Fage-Pedersen conceded that it is not technically illegal to do so, but warned that it is heavily frowned upon.
“If we try to refer the matter to the police, I think they would be too busy to even bother interfering. We cannot do anything but make an appeal to people, which is what we’re doing now. Please think before you support something like this,” Fage-Pedersen told BT.
As the Danish prince Joachim is the so-called Royal Protector of the society, one also risks evoking the ire (or at least disdain) of the Danish royal family by installing such a light on their flagpole.
Danmarks-Samfundet has published a 68-page guide to proper use of the flag here, and we have included some of the most common rules in the list below.
No other flag must be flown from the same flagstaff at the same time.
Other Scandinavian flags, the UN flag and the EU flag are also permitted to be flown in Denmark, but require special permission from the local police.
If Dannebrog is to be flown alongside nearby flags, it must be raised first, and from the left side. Following that, the other flags are raised in alphabetical order (so the Norwegian flag would be raised before the Swedish one, for instance).
When the flag is worn out and needs to be disposed of, it must be burned.
The flag must be raised and lowered slowly.
At funerals, the flat is flown at half-staff at sunrise and then to the top once the funeral is over.