Red, white, and blue

In my previous posting, a swimsuit exploiting the U.S. Stars and Stripes. Meanwhile, on the way back from today’s senior exercise hour, Kim Darnell and I encountered, in midtown Palo Alto, a gigantic red, white, and blue flag flying in front of a house. It hadn’t been there on Saturday, so I figured it must have some connection with a holiday.

What came first to my mind was Puerto Rican Day (June 11th this year). I thought that the flag might be some variant of the red, white, and blue Puerto Rican flag that I hadn’t encountered before. The PR flag:


But no. There is a holiday involved, but it’s Chinese, and this year it’s today.

Here’s the flag we saw, the flag of the Republic of China, aka Taiwan:


From Wikipedia:

The flag of the Republic of China is red with a navy blue canton bearing a white sun with twelve triangular rays. In Chinese, the flag is commonly described as Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth to reflect its attributes.

It was first used in mainland China by the Kuomintang (KMT, the Chinese Nationalist Party) in 1917 and was made the official flag of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1928. It was enshrined in the sixth article of the Constitution of the Republic of China when it was promulgated in 1947.

As the islands of Taiwan and Penghu had been under Japanese rule since 1895, the flag began use in Taiwan only after the 1945 handover. The flag is now mostly used within Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other outlying islands where the ROC relocated in 1949 after its defeat in the Chinese Civil War. The Republic of China is often referred to as Taiwan since withdrawing from the United Nations in 1971.

And the holiday is the Dragon Boat Festival. From Wikipedia:

The Duanwu Festival, also often known, especially in the West, as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China, occurring near the summer solstice. It is also known as Zhongxiao Festival, commemorating fealty and filial piety. The festival now occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is the source of the festival’s alternative name, the Double Fifth Festival. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the date of the festival varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. In 2017, it [occurs] on May 30.

… The festival was long marked as a cultural festival in China and is a public holiday in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. The People’s Republic of China government established in 1949, however, did not officially recognize Duanwu as a public holiday. … Since 2008, Duanwu has been celebrated not only as a festival but also as a public holiday in the People’s Republic of China. It is unofficially observed by the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Malaysia.

… Three of the most widespread activities conducted during the Duanwu Festival are eating (and preparing) zongzi [sticky rice dumplings], drinking realgar wine [rice wine dosed with a yellow-orange arsenic sulfide mineral (As4S4)], and racing dragon boats [full-sized watercraft].

In the West, prominent red, white, and blue flags are the U.S. Stars and Stripes, the French Tricolor, and the U.K. Union Jack, which I seem not to have posted about here. So, from Wikipedia:


The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George of the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland.

Now to Puerto Rican Day in the U.S. From Wikipedia:

The Puerto Rican Day Parade (also known as the National Puerto Rican Day Parade) takes place annually in the United States along Fifth Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York. The parade is held on the second Sunday in June [June 11th this year], in honor of the nearly four million inhabitants of Puerto Rico and all people of Puerto Rican birth or heritage residing in the mainland U.S.

… The parade marches along Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 86th Street and has grown to become one of the largest parades in New York City, with nearly two million spectators annually making it one of the largest outdoor events in the United States

And the complex history of the Puerto Rican flag, from Wikipedia:

The flag of Puerto Rico represents and symbolizes the island of Puerto Rico and its people.

The origins of the current flag of Puerto Rico, adopted by the commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952, can be traced to 1868, when the first Puerto Rican flag, “The Revolutionary Flag of Lares”, was conceived by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mariana “Brazos de Oro” Bracetti. This flag was used in the short-lived Puerto Rican revolt against Spanish rule in the island, known as “El Grito de Lares”.


The Flag of Lares

Juan de Mata Terreforte, an exiled veteran of “El Grito de Lares” and Vice-President of the Cuban Revolutionary Committee, in New York City, adopted the flag of Lares as the flag of Puerto Rico until 1895, when the current design, modeled after the Cuban flag,


The flag of Cuba

was unveiled and adopted by the 59 Puerto Rican exiles of the Cuban Revolutionary committee. The new flag [#1 above], which consisted of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center, was first flown in Puerto Rico on March 24, 1897, during the “Intentona de Yauco” revolt. The use and display of the Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952).

About the Cuban flag, from Wikipedia:

The national flag of Cuba consists of five alternating stripes (three blue and two white) and a red equilateral triangle, within which is a white five-pointed star, at the hoist. It was adopted on May 20, 1849

The three blue stripes represent the three departments in which Cuba was divided at that time, the white purity of ideals, the light; the red triangle, originating from the French Revolution – and the three ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity: red for the blood and the courage; the star was the new state that should be added to the United States.

So you get from Cuba (#5) to Puerto Rico (#1) by exchanging the red and the blue.

In any case, coming up: U.S. Puerto Rican Day (June 11th), U.S. Flag Day (June 14th), U.S. Independence Day (July 4th), and Bastille Day (July 14th) — all summer occasions for flying one red, white, and blue flag or another. (St. George’s Day, St. Andrew’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day are not in the summer.)

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